60-Year-Old Tiki Bar Trader Vic's Could Close Before The Year's Out

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 18 months ago

Last Updated 30 November 2022

60-Year-Old Tiki Bar Trader Vic's Could Close Before The Year's Out
A set of tiki cocktails
Trader Vic's could close just shy of its 60th birthday. Image: iStock/bhofack2.

Kooky tiki bar and Polynesian restaurant Trader Vic's — which has been plying Londoners with Mai Tais since 1963 — could be forced to close on December 31, it's been reported.

Part of the kitsch California-based restaurant and tiki bar chain, Trader Vic's opened inside the London Hilton on Park Lane almost 60 years ago, becoming semi-legendary with lovers of knockout fruity punches served in ceramic skulls. Among the clientele, according to Harper's Bazaar, have been Marlon Brando, George Harrison and Elton John.

A Polynesian style tiki bar
Trader Vic's London back in 2007. Image: Michug in creative commons.

Now, according to numerous sources — including an Instagram post by J. Eric Lynxwiler from Museum of Neon Art — The Hilton hotel has informed the Polynesian-themed bar and restaurant that it must shut on 31 December 2022. (Londonist has approached Hilton for comment.)

In his post, Lynxwiler explained that the establishment — the oldest surviving one in the chain — is the reason he came to London in 2016. "The closure of this historic restaurant kills me!" he said.

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A post shared by Eric Lynxwiler (@jericl)

It'd be a sad end to an establishment, which apart from everything else, has one of the most gloriously haywire interiors in London (think gurning tribal masks, glass floats string from the ceiling and bamboo as far as the eye can see) — but the fact there's already a petition to save it, suggests fans of Trader Vic's won't let the place go down so easily as one of its Singapore Symphony cocktails.

A very fruity looking fruit punch
A Mai Tai at Trader Vic's restaurant in Emeryville, CA. Image: Kevdo in creative commons

The bar even features in the Warren Zevon's tune Werewolves of London, in which Zevon purrs: "I saw a werewolf drinkin' a piña colada at Trader Vic's. His hair was perfect."

That song also references Lee Ho Fooks, a Chinatown restaurant, which closed in 2008.

Just a couple of weeks ago, it was announced that another London institution — Simpson's Tavern in the City — was going to the wall. We're glad to report they're putting up a helluva fight against the landlord.

Sign the petition to save Trader Vic's.

With thanks to Alexander Williams for bringing this story to our attention.