Déjà Food: Tiki Time in the Big City

A look back at Detroit’s tiki craze

At age 13 in the summer of 1965, a friend and her mother invited me to go with them to lunch at the Mauna Loa restaurant in downtown Detroit. (Editor’s note: It was during a tiki theme craze, along with Trader Vic’s and Chin Tiki.) Boy what a treat! I am from North Street, Michigan (outside of Port Huron), and I had never been in downtown Detroit before. When we pulled in and exited the car so it could be valet parked, I couldn’t believe it! I thought I was in the movies! (Also, I remember thinking, “Boy, I hope it is still there when we need it to leave.”) Entering the restaurant was breathtaking with tropical flowers, waterfalls, and a moving circular buffet. The seating was graduated at different levels. My friend and I had special drinks (without the rum of course) in coconut mugs/tiki glasses. Over the years I’ve lost contact with the friend and her mom, but it was a special day and memory for me. — Laura Campbell, Fort Gratiot

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Do you have a story of a long-gone restaurant from metro Detroit’s storied past? We’ll give a $100 gift certificate to one of the finer “modern” restaurants in town to the author of items we publish. Email us at editorial@hourdetroit.com or snail mail us at 5750 New King Dr., Troy, MI 48098. Just put “Deja Food” on the subject line or envelope.