Minimalist Tiki

First new Don the Beachcomber location on track to open in early 2024

Updated February 2024

The much-anticipated re-launch of the iconic Don the Beachcomber brand will kick off in early 2024, when the first of several new restaurants will open in Florida. All indications point to a February grand opening in Madeira Beach on the southwest Gulf Coast.

NEW: Revived Don the Beachcomber brand opens first location in southwest Florida (February 2024)

Don the Beachcomber

The indoor-outdoor space on the ground floor of the waterfront Cambria Hotel was originally scheduled to open in November or December. The Don the Beachcomber website currently says “early 2024.”

The space is still under construction, so more delays are possible. However, management started seeking employees several weeks ago, and photos shared on social media show the interior decor nearing the final stages of installation.

A reel posted Dec. 14 on the official pages on Instagram and Facebook provides “a sneak peek into paradise.”

If all goes according to plan, expect a public opening in February with a soft opening for “friends and family” a week prior. An official annoucement on an exact date likely won’t be made until after a certificate of occupancy is issued.

A general rule of thumb in the restaurant business is to begin hiring at least six weeks before a grand opening. The first “now hiring” post appeared Dec. 1 on the Don the Beachcomber Instagram page.

The “GOATS wanted” ad encourages “career seekers” and “badass dreamers” to apply via the website of parent company 23 Restaurant Services. Among the jobs posted on the website are bartender, cook, dishwasher, expeditor, host/hostess, manager, managing partner, server, and service assistant.

Modern Caribbean Rum
Detail photos of the interior decor at the Don the Beachcomber location in Madeira Beach, Fla., posted Nov. 13 on the official Facebook page.
Detail photos of the interior decor at the Don the Beachcomber location in Madeira Beach, Fla., posted Nov. 13 on the official Facebook page.

Jump to more below
YouTube preview: Marie King talks cocktails, upcoming locations
Sneak peek: Renderings, mission statement revealed at Tiki Oasis
Merchandise: Mugs, glassware, apparel, ephemera
Bonus cocktail recipe: Sunakora

The Madeira Beach space was originally slated to be a new Tiki Docks location, but 23 Restaurant Services shifted its strategy away from the Florida beach bar concept and accelerated its focus on the more traditional Don the Beachcomber brand. Additional Polynesian restaurants named for the tropical cocktail genre’s godfather have been announced for Viera in Brevard County on Florida’s east coast and Hamlin in Orange County just north of Disney World.

A photo posted Dec. 11 on Facebook by Daniel "Tiki Diablo" Gallardo shows the entrance to the new Don the Beachcomber restaurant in Madeira Beach, Fla.
A photo posted Dec. 11 on Facebook by Daniel “Tiki Diablo” Gallardo shows the entrance to the new Don the Beachcomber restaurant in Madeira Beach, Fla.

Though not yet listed on the official website, there’s also a stand-alone Don the Beachcomber bar planned for Tampa, revealed in October by Marie King, the 23 Restaurants Services director of beverage. King is a respected veteran in the tropical drinks world after managing California’s historic Tonga Hut from 2012 to early 2023. She also ran the bar program at the last Don the Beachcomber in California from 2009 to 2011.

According to the official timeline, the waterfront Viera location at the corner of Viera and Lake Andrews boulevards is set to open in 2025. But King said the smaller Tampa bar could open its doors first, likely in 2024.

Previous coverage
* Florida is ground zero for revival of iconic brand (October 2023)
* New Don the Beachcomber locations launching in Florida (February 2023)

An outdoor bar area receives Daniel "Tiki Diablo" Gallardo's signature design touch at the the new Don the Beachcomber restaurant in Madeira Beach, Fla. Photo posted Nov. 20 on Gallardo's Facebook page.
An outdoor bar area receives Daniel “Tiki Diablo” Gallardo’s signature design touch at the the new Don the Beachcomber restaurant in Madeira Beach, Fla. Photo posted Nov. 20 on Gallardo’s Facebook page.

The most ambitious of the new build-outs is the one in Hamlin, a lakefront development near Winter Garden and part of the master-planned Horizon West community. The large restaurant, which will be 10 miles from Disney World and 20 miles from downtown Orlando, is projected for a fall 2025 opening.

A Gainesville location, previously shared on social media, is not yet listed on the website. All dates are subject to change. Click here for the latest official schedule. The plans to expand to more cities are detailed below.

The first test of the concept will come in Madeira Beach, a small city on the Gulf of Mexico in Pinellas County, between St. Petersburg and Clearwater. As of the 2020 census, the population was just 3,895. It’s a picturesque tourist destination with a 2.5-mile beach that attracts sun worshippers, and a popular fishing ecosystem that yields more grouper than any other place in the state.

Photos posted Nov. 13 on the official Facebook page show the progress of the work on the interior decor at the Don the Beachcomber location in Madeira Beach, Fla.
Photos posted Nov. 13 on the official Facebook page show the progress of the work on the interior decor at the Don the Beachcomber location in Madeira Beach, Fla.

The architect overseeing the Madeira Beach project is Jack Bodziak, a longtime Southwest Florida residential and commercial expert with his own firm, Bodziak/Hayes Architects.

The interior design and decor is in the capable hands of Southern California artist Daniel “Tiki Diablo” Gallardo, the stylistic visionary for all of the upcoming Don the Beachcomber locations. His renderings for the indoor and outdoor spaces display a reverence for the history of both the brand and mid-20th century Tiki style.

Likewise, King is overseeing all of the cocktail menus and build-out of the individual service bars. She has the enviable but challenging task of bringing the groundbreaking creations of Donn Beach (1907-1989), who single-handedly kick-started the tropical drink craze in the 1930s, back to the masses on a grand scale.

A cocktail that will be served at the upcoming Don the Beachcomber restaurant in Madeira Beach, Fla. (Facebook photo)
A cocktail that will be served at the upcoming Don the Beachcomber restaurant in Madeira Beach, Fla. (Facebook photo)

A Dec. 4 social media post from the official Don the Beachcomber accounts features a preview of five of the cocktails planned for Madeira Beach, including what was clearly the iconic Missionary’s Downfall. The others were less obvious. One appears to be a coconut drink, one could be a Zombie, and the others look like tall and refreshing highballs.

In the October interview, King said the Madeira Beach menu was already done, and she was working on bringing in special rums for a flight. She added that management had been taste-testing some of the food, which should include a pu-pu platter, crab rangoon, and stir-fried rice.

Follow Tiki Diablo on Instagram and Facebook for the latest updates on his work in Madeira Beach.

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Marie King talks cocktails, future of Don the Beachcomber brand

In a live interview with Gabriel Bascom of The Search for Tiki, King talked at length about her Tiki cocktail journey, the revival of the Don the Beachcomber brand, and the great care going into every aspect of the new restaurants.

The Oct. 8 episode of 13 Nights of Tiki Frights on YouTube also featured a few mini bombshells, from the “secret location” in Tampa, to a possible collaboration with Trader Vic’s on that brand’s 90th anniversary in 2024.

The Return of Don the Beachcomber with Marie King on 13 Nights of Tiki Frights

“We’re ambassadors for these legacy brands,” King said of President Marc Brown and the team at 23 Restaurant Services. “We give them the history and the legacy that they deserve.” The company previously developed the Ford’s Garage concept, the only restaurant chain with the licensing rights to the iconic auto company’s logos and insignia.

King credited Brown for doing his research on Don the Beachcomber before acquiring the rights to the name. He had discussions with the filmmakers behind the upcoming Donn of Tiki documentary. He then met with Tim “Swanky” Glazner, author of the forthcoming Searching for Don the Beachcomber biography.

But he didn’t stop there. To make sure Donn Beach’s legacy is treated properly, he enlisted Glazner to help him put together an advisory board of some of the top names in the modern Tiki community. Glazner and Gallardo are joined by author Sven Kirsten, award-winning bar owner Martin Cate, artist John Mulder (Eekum Bookum Tiki Mugs, and Adrian Eustaquio of the Inside the Desert Oasis Room podcast and vlog.

A rendering by artist Daniel "Tiki Diablo" Gallardo shows potential interior designs for upcoming Don the Beachcomber restaurants in Florida. The image was shared Oct. 8 on the YouTube show 13 Nights of Tiki Frights and also posted on Facebook by Gallardo.
A rendering by artist Daniel “Tiki Diablo” Gallardo shows potential interior designs for upcoming Don the Beachcomber restaurants in Florida. The image was shared Oct. 8 on the YouTube show 13 Nights of Tiki Frights and also posted on Facebook by Gallardo.

“They don’t make decisions, but we kind of put our decisions through their filter,” King said of the oversight group. She mentioned the debate over having televisions in the Madeira Beach restaurant. A compromise was reached to accommodate the guests of the Florida resort hotel.

“We’re going to have people who want to watch the World Series or the Super Bowl or whatever,” she said. An effort will be made to keep the TVs mainly out of view, she said, or perhaps show the Donn of Tiki film.

She faces a similar dilemma with the cocktails. “I can’t expect everyone who comes in to appreciate the flavor profile of the 1934 Zombie, so I’ll need to give them things they want to drink,” King said. However, she promised there will be certain Don the Beachcomber classics, such as the Doctor Funk and Missionary’s Downfall..

Tiki carver Daniel "Tiki Diablo" Gallardo shows off some of his handiwork at Don the Beachcomber in Madeira Beach in images shared Oct. 8 during a live YouTube interview with mixologist Marie King on the 13 Nights of Tiki Frights channel.
Tiki carver Daniel “Tiki Diablo” Gallardo shows off some of his handiwork at Don the Beachcomber in Madeira Beach in images shared Oct. 8 during a live YouTube interview with mixologist Marie King on the 13 Nights of Tiki Frights channel.

The cocktail menu will be on the small side, featuring around 23 drinks, she said. Since it’s located in a hotel and will likely draw mainly tourists, the Madeira Beach location will be “more open, more restaurant forward. Obviously, they’re all going to have great cocktails,” she said of the upcoming venues.

King noted that there will be different versions of the Don the Beachcomber concept as the new locations roll out. The Tampa location will be more cocktail forward, she said, with 40-50 drinks and minimal food. She called this more rum- and cocktail-forward style of a smaller venue a “tikeasy style” bar or “Dagger Bar,” named for one of Donn Beach’s old concepts.

There’s also “a 300-seat restaurant, with a private second bar inside of it,” she said, likely referring to the larger Hamlin project. This location will be built from the ground up and feature two A-frames – one facing the water, the other facing the street.

Photos shared Oct. 8 on YouTube by Don the Beachcomber beverage director Marie King show some of the many Tiki carvings in progress at the new Madeira Beach location.
Photos shared Oct. 8 on YouTube by Don the Beachcomber beverage director Marie King show some of the many Tiki carvings in progress at the new Madeira Beach location.

As for future plans to give the brand a signature stamp, King said they hope to have a Don the Beachcomber private label rum down the line, as well as a signature cocktail syrup.

Turning the attention to Gallardo and the Madeira Beach build-out, King shared photos of many of the Tiki carvings the artist and his team were cranking out. In addition to Gallardo, carvers Dave “Basement Kahuna” Wolfe (Georgia) and Tom Fowner (Florida) are lending their talents.

She pointed out the Marquesan-style carvings, estimating that there will be roughly 19 posts inside and another 20-25 in an outdoor area. Regarding concerns over the style of the carvings, she added: “It’s going to be very respectful and very tasteful.”

A lot of thought is going into all aspects of the design. “It’s really important we get the right lighting,” King said, adding that “Chinese tiles are going to go everywhere.” She estimated that 30 or 40 vintage tiles are being installed in the first two locations.

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A concept sketch by Daniel "Tiki Diablo" Gallardo of the outside of a signature Don the Beachcomber restaurant. (DonBeachcomber.com)
A concept sketch by Daniel “Tiki Diablo” Gallardo of the outside of a signature Don the Beachcomber restaurant. (DonBeachcomber.com)

Sneak preview at Tiki Oasis includes renderings, mission statement

The launch of the revived Don the Beachcomber brand was announced in February, but excitement really started to build in August after Marc Brown and most of his team traveled to San Diego to attend Tiki Oasis, the world’s largest gathering of Polynesian Pop and Tiki culture enthusiasts. “The love and welcoming spirit was tangible and something we’ll never forget,” King wrote in an article posted on the official website.

King served up several new cocktails that take Donn Beach’s classics to a new level. The M.N.P.D. was a modern version of the Pearl Diver (featuring brown butter gardenia mix and macadamia nut liqueur), while the Missionary’s Doom (aka Missionary’s Undoing) was a richer version of the Missionary’s Downfall. “I’m constantly learning, I’m constantly studying, with one foot in the past and one in the future,” King said during a Tiki Oasis symposium.

“We’re going to integrate all the modern techniques,” she added. “We’re acid adjusting, doing all the things to ensure consistency.” She said she feels blessed to be able to set up the service wells so they’re ergonomic and designed for bartenders to make the same great cocktails at all of the upcoming locations.

King’s drinks were served and tons of merch was sold at the large Don the Beachcomber booth in the giant marketplace featuring more than 150 vendors. Guests got first crack at the signature “Legend Returns” mug by Eekum Bookum’s Mulder, who also designed the official Tiki Oasis mug and drove to the event from his Florida home with a carload of merchandise.

Don the Beachcomber beverage director Marie King (left) and Teresa McNamara of 23 Restaurant Services prepare Don the Beachcomber cocktails in the Tiki Oasis marketplace in August 2023. (Photos by Tiki John Atkins)
Don the Beachcomber beverage director Marie King (left) and Teresa McNamara of 23 Restaurant Services prepare Don the Beachcomber cocktails in the Tiki Oasis marketplace in August 2023. (Photos by Tiki John Atkins)

But the centerpiece of the team’s appearance was the sold-out symposium, The Legend Returns: Don the Beachcomber, held on Aug. 4. It featured interactive presentations by Brown, King and Gallardo, plus creative director Justin Peterson. The event was hosted by Adrian Eustaquio and included another oversight committee member, Sven Kirsten.

Before the restaurant team took the stage, Glazner presented never-before-seen images and info from his upcoming Donn Beach biography. Then Max Well, co-director of Donn of Tiki, gave the enthusiastic crowd of several hundred a sneak preview of the documentary.

Glazner first documented the history of Don the Beachcomber in the 2016 book Mai-Kai: History and Mystery of the Iconic Tiki Restaurant (Schiffer). He traced the roots of the 67-year-old Tiki temple back to Donn Beach and the key employees who brought the pioneering restaurateur’s concepts to Fort Lauderdale in 1956.

Author Tim "Swanky" Glazner talks about his upcoming book during the Don the Beachcomber presentation at Tiki Oasis in August 2023. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)
Author Tim “Swanky” Glazner talks about his upcoming book during the Don the Beachcomber presentation at Tiki Oasis in August 2023. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

Through his contacts, he later started a dialogue with Phoebe Beach, Donn’s last wife and co-author of several books on her late husband. Eventually, she gifted Glazner her vast archive of Beach’s personal papers and history. The treasure trove of information – 150 pounds of documents and photos – will provide the bulk of the content in Searching for Don the Beachcomber, due out in 2024.

Fielding a question from the audience after the presentation, Glazner set the record straight on the official opening date of Beach’s original bar in Hollywood. It wasn’t after Prohibition ended in 1933 or 1934, which is widely reported. According to Beach’s own documentation, the bar opened in 1932 as an illegal speakeasy, Glazner said. “The rebel that he was, he opened before Prohibition ended.”

There was no sign on the exterior and no photos of the interior, he said, but he’s confident this origin story is correct. In 1934, the bar moved across the street and got its first business and liquor licenses. Glazner’s revelation led to the new branding of the official website (DonBeachcomber.com) and Facebook page.

Guests at Tiki Oasis 2023 in San Diego enjoyed a classic Rum Barrel during the presentation on Don the Beachcomber. (Photo by Tiki John Atkins)
Guests at Tiki Oasis 2023 in San Diego enjoyed a classic Rum Barrel during the presentation on Don the Beachcomber. (Photo by Tiki John Atkins)

Eustaquio used the words “perfect storm” to describe the simultaneous genesis of Glazner’s book, the film by Well and co-director Alex Lamb, and the resurrection of the Don the Beachcomber brand. When Brown took the stage, he sought to quell any potential storm clouds looming over the revival of the beloved brand.

“We understood the responsibilities that come along with now representing Don the Beachcomber,” Brown said after describing his first meetings with Delia Snyder, who owned the brand with her late husband, Art Snyder. She operated the Huntington Beach location until closing in 2018. She and her husband, who died in 2012, knew Donn Beach personally.

Brown said he made four or five trips to Los Angeles to meet with Snyder in an effort to put a deal together to acquire the brand. He said Don the Beachcomber was the one name that kept coming up while he and his team traveled around the country doing research on how to expand their Tiki Docks brand.

Marc Brown, president of 23 Restaurant Services, speaks about the legacy of Don the Beachcomber during a seminar at Tiki Oasis in San Diego on Aug. 4, 2023. He was joined (from left) by Marie King, Justin Peterson, Sven Kirsten, Daniel "Tiki Diablo" Gallardo, and Tim "Swanky" Glazner. (Photo by Tiki John Atkins)
Marc Brown, president of 23 Restaurant Services, speaks about the legacy of Don the Beachcomber during a seminar at Tiki Oasis in San Diego on Aug. 4, 2023. He was joined (from left) by Marie King, Justin Peterson, Sven Kirsten, Daniel “Tiki Diablo” Gallardo, and Tim “Swanky” Glazner. (Photo by Tiki John Atkins)

Based on what they discovered in talking to the passionate fans of the vintage Tiki lifestyle and the bars, Brown said, they decided to leave Tiki Docks the way it is and pursue Don the Beachcomber as a stand-alone brand. His first challenge after the deal was done: “How do we do this right?”

That’s when he sought out Well and Lamb, who introduced him to Glazner. “He asked a lot of tough questions, like: ‘Are you guys really committed to doing this right?’ I think we answered him correctly,” Brown said with a smile. He and Glazner met up with Kirsten and Eustaquio at the legendary Tiki Ti in Los Angeles, and the seeds of the advisory board were planted.

“We wanted the people who were involved in this to be diverse,” Brown said, explaining how they brought in experts from different disciplines in an effort to “check all the boxes.” He added: “We feel incredibly privileged to have this group of people helping us.”

Speaking of 23 Restaurant Services, Brown said: “We feel we’re a pretty well-run restaurant organization. I think we have some of the most talented people in the industry involved, but we needed to get people involved in what we’re doing that understand Tiki.”

Creative director Justin Peterson reveals new Don the Beachcomber glassware and merchandise designs at Tiki Oasis in August 2023. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)
Creative director Justin Peterson reveals new Don the Beachcomber glassware and merchandise designs at Tiki Oasis in August 2023. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

Brown spoke quickly and succinctly about the mission of the Don the Beachcomber brand, but also with emotion and passion. His first moves were hiring Marie King as director of beverage and making Justin Peterson creative director. Both bring the perfect sensibilities to their jobs.

King described her role as “bringing back the legend, bringing back the cocktails. Honoring the past, but looking forward.” As the audience enjoyed two signature cocktails, she added: “I’m fortunate enough to be given the legacy of Donn Beach. We’re taking those ingredients, we’re making them fresh, we’re using the best rums.”

Peterson took the mic next, leading a slideshow of images that included the new merchandise as well as Gallardo’s stunning renderings. “We really wanted to have some iconic, amazing looking designs that really pay homage to the history and the brand itself. And the man,” he said.

His graphic art designs are “meant to focus on Donn,” he said. All the merchandise includes imagery “that harken to designs of the past.” Peterson was then joined by Gallardo, who was cheered by his California homies while he presented a tour of potential interior and exterior designs.

Daniel "Tiki Diablo" Gallardo presents his design sketches for upcoming Don the Beachcomber restaurants at Tiki Oasis in August 2023. (Photo by Tiki John Atkins)
Daniel “Tiki Diablo” Gallardo presents his design sketches for upcoming Don the Beachcomber restaurants at Tiki Oasis in August 2023. (Photo by Tiki John Atkins)

“When Danny joined the advisory board, he brought a design philosophy that we’re using as our North Star,” Peterson said. Gallardo said he pulled a lot of elements from the past, but he also “tried to do something that was authentic and unique to me. If I’m not feeling it, I’m not going to do it.”

Eschewing computer graphics, he said he did his original drawings on paper with pencil and ink, just like Donn Beach did. Gallardo’s presentation perfectly fit the mold of a humble artist. Unassuming but confident, he connected with the audience in a down-to-earth manner.

Showing a rendering of an entrance and hostess stand, he said he “tried to incorporate a lot of the elements that Donn used in his original Hollywood location.” It prominently features wood paneling, “something that’s not used much in current builds.” Rather than featuring bamboo everywhere, he said he wanted to make it more old school.

Artist Daniel "Tiki Diablo" Gallardo shows how he plans to incorporate tiki carvings into the design of upcoming Don the Beachcomber restaurants at Tiki Oasis in August 2023. (Photo by Tiki John Atkins)
Artist Daniel “Tiki Diablo” Gallardo shows how he plans to incorporate tiki carvings into the design of upcoming Don the Beachcomber restaurants at Tiki Oasis in August 2023. (Photo by Tiki John Atkins)

Of course, Gallardo made sure to feature a lot of the classic “Beachcomber look” and its abundance of flotsam and jetsam. He showed a slide featuring a large carved tiki anchoring the bar because, he explained: “If it doesn’t have a tiki in it, it’s not a Tiki bar.” Not surprisingly, this generated a wave of applause from the audience.

One of his earliest memories of a Tiki bar is the soaring A-frame, which he made sure to incorporate into the entrance design. Gallardo was cheered again when he talked about how the A-frame needs to be impressive, “like a beacon in the middle of the night.”

He also said that one of his A-frame designs was an unconscious tribute to The Mai-Kai. “It kind of happened by accident,” he admitted. As for the materials, he said they plan to use “carved, giant, heavy-duty timbers. Something inviting and warm.”

Gallardo also showed some of the early computer renderings by the architects, which Peterson later shared on the official website. He said the design team breathed life into Gallardo’s 2D sketches and made them more lifelike.

In the symposium and subsequent article, Peterson summed up the brand’s design philosophy: “Honor the past. Be relevant to the present. One foot in the future.”

The front entrance of a Don the Beachcomber restaurant, rendered by the architecture team based on sketches by Daniel "Tiki Diablo" Gallardo. (DonBeachcomber.com)
The front entrance of a Don the Beachcomber restaurant, rendered by the architecture team based on sketches by Daniel “Tiki Diablo” Gallardo. (DonBeachcomber.com)

The Tiki Oasis presentation concluded with a slide revealing the upcoming locations, followed by a Q&A. While the basic food, cocktails and overall design themes will be consistent across the brand, each bar or restaurant will be distinct, we were told.

“As an artist, I never want to do the same thing (twice),” Gallardo said. “So each location will have its own personality.” He said the design team will create basic “building block starter packs” that will allow him to give each location its own flair. “We can pick a theme and run with it.”

Brown elaborated on the different Don the Beachcomber venues we can expect. He said the renderings show the most extensive, a “full-service restaurant and bar with a speakeasy style bar inside of it.” This design is said to be in the works for Hamlin.

Then there’s a more straightforward restaurant and bar, which we expect to see in Madeira Beach. The final style is a stand-alone bar, which is planned for Tampa.

An image that depicts the possible lakeside view of an upcoming Don the Beachcomber restaurant planned for Hamlin in Central Florida. (DonBeachcomber.com)
An image that depicts the possible lakeside view of an upcoming Don the Beachcomber restaurant planned for Hamlin in Central Florida. (DonBeachcomber.com)

“We want there to be differences between these locations,” Brown said. “We’re not looking to cookie-cutter this thing.”

As for the food, Brown said they’re “definitely committed to having a Polynesian-forward menu” but with an “appeal-to-the-masses” approach. He explained that all the 23 Restaurant Services menus are designed for “there be something for everybody.” He said they don’t like the idea of losing entire groups of people because one person can’t find something they like.

As expected, one of the burning questions was if or when Don the Beachcomber was coming back to California. “Have no fear, we have a 10-year plan,” King said. “This will be something you can all participate in. We’re starting in Florida. We hope to get to most of the 50 states.”

Brown was a bit more conservative, but offered more detail: “We’re looking at a lot of different ways to grow the brand. And we are committed to creating a national presence with the brand. We’re looking to do company-owned stores, we’re looking to do joint ventures, possibly do some franchising.”

Don the Beachcomber brand's design philosophy

But he warned that the company will be “very picky” about franchisees. “We need to make sure that the quality standards are met.” He said that “the most likely scenario for us to get going in California is with a development partner.”

The priority is opening the Florida locations to get the ball rolling, he said, “but we’re very committed to getting to California as quickly as we can.” He added that they’re “committed to getting it done in less than 5 years.”

Longtime Los Angeles resident Kirsten chimed in, facetiously calling Californians a “spoiled bunch” because they already have so many Tiki bars. “There are so many states out there with Tiki fans that don’t have places,” he said. “I’m looking forward to this group bringing Tiki to other states.”

More on Tiki Oasis: The Atomic Grog’s live coverage

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Among the many items in the Don the Beachcomber online store are a coconut mug, plus Zombie and Mai Tai glasses. (Shop.DTB.com)
Among the many items in the Don the Beachcomber online store are a coconut mug, plus Zombie and Mai Tai glasses. (Shop.DTB.com)

Wide range of merchandise for sale in online store

Since making a splash at Tiki Oasis with a huge merchandise booth in the center of the event’s massive marketplace, the Don the Beachcomber merchandise machine has not slowed down. A robust and user-friendly online store features dozens of items.

The merch and overall branding is under the guidance of creative director Justin Peterson of 23 Restaurant Services, an industry veteran who has worked with numerous brands and also has a deep affinity for Tiki and Don the Beachcomber. This understanding of the history shows in many of his designs.

We can’t wait to see his menu design when the first restaurant opens. In the meantime, there’s plenty of merch to check out.

The signature Don the Beachcomber mug by Eekum Bookum, released in August at Tiki Oasis and available in the online store
The signature Don the Beachcomber mug by Eekum Bookum, released in August at Tiki Oasis and available in the online store.

Mugs: The signature “Legend Returns” mug by John Mulder and Eekum Bookum, featuring a likeness of Donn Beach in a peacock chair, is still available in the online store along with the first version of the classic coconut mug. According to the website, there will be a new version of the coconut mug each year.

Glassware: Peterson’s new brand artwork is showcased in two different Mai Tai glasses, plus two unique Zombie glasses. Several different stainless steel tumblers are also available.

Postcards: Choose from four different matte finish designs featuring Peterson’s reinterpretation of vintage imagery. Even the back of the card has a retro look, featuring a faux “1932 Hollywood, Calif.” postmark. One card features a rendering of Beach’s International Marketplace in Waikiki while another shows off some of Beach’s most famous cocktails (Zombie, Three Dots and a Dash, Pearl Diver) along with Tiki bar imagery.

Apparel: There’s a wide array of headgear in multiple colors, from baseball caps to bucket hats, featuring Don the Beachcomber logos and artwork. T-shirts also come in multiple colors and styles with images that include the Legend Returns mug, the signature “three cannibals” artwork, the Zombie cocktail, plus more.

The Don the Beachcomber brand has revived classic collectibles, including postcards and matchbooks. (Shop.DTB.com)
The Don the Beachcomber brand has revived classic collectibles, including postcards and matchbooks. (Shop.DTB.com)

Stickers and magnets feature four different vinyl designs including the official logos and artwork, plus Donn Beach’s signature saying: “If you can’t get to paradise, we’ll bring it to you.”

Matchbooks: A collectible set of four honors the return of the brand while closely recreating some classic designs of these retro souvenirs. The custom designed 10-strike matchbooks feature detailed color artwork inside and out, making for a unique addition to home Tiki bars.

Go to Shop.DTB.com to check out all the latest merch, and sign up for the email list to get updates.

Note that depending on your order and location, you can still get your shipment in time for Christmas. An order of glassware, a postcard and matchbooks was delivered to us in Florida via USPS priority mail on Dec. 14 around midday after being ordered in the evening of Dec. 11.

Top 10 stories of 2023: Tiki resurgence and appreciation breathes life into year marked by loss
Top 10 stories of 2023: Tiki resurgence and appreciation breathes life into year marked by loss
Take a look back at last year’s most significant news, including legends lost, honored and revived.
Top story No. 2: Anticipation for new Don the Beachcomber restaurant chain, film and book reaches fever pitch NEW

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BONUS COCKTAIL RECIPE

Don the Beachcomber's Sunakora by The Atomic Grog, December 2023. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)
Don the Beachcomber’s Sunakora by The Atomic Grog, December 2023. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

SUNAKORA
(By Don the Beachcomber / From Beachbum Berry’s Sippin’ Safari)

  • 3/4 ounce dark Jamaican rum
  • 1/4 ounce gold Barbados rum
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 ounce orange juice
  • 1/2 ounce unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 1/2 ounce club soda
  • 1/2 ounce honey mix (1:1 honey and water)
  • 1 teaspoon falernum
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters

Blend with 4 ounces of crushed ice for no more than 5 seconds. Pour unstrained into a specialty or pilsner glass. Add more crushed ice to fill.

Created by Donn Beach for his first wife and business partner, Sunny Sund, whose nickname was “Sunakora, Queen of the Beachcombers.” Light on the rum but heavy on the tropical flavors, this mild drink is still richly layered and exotic like many of Beach’s other classics.

As Marie King explained when introducing the drink at the Tiki Oasis symposium in August, it’s not as boozy as some of Beach’s more famous cocktails since it was intended for Sund to sip while she managed the bar in the early days. As the business brains behind the operation, she needed to keep her wits about her.

Marie King, director of beverage for 23 Restaurant Services and Don the Beachcomber, introduces the Sunakora cocktail during a presentation at Tiki Oasis in August 2023. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)
Marie King, director of beverage for 23 Restaurant Services and Don the Beachcomber, introduces the Sunakora cocktail during a presentation at Tiki Oasis in August 2023. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

Reflecting on Sund’s reputation as a strong woman who was ahead of her time, King said this cocktail is “very near and dear to my heart.” The biography Sunny Sund: The Woman Behind Don the Beachcomber, Inc.: A Hollywood Story, written by Sund’s daughter Karen, was just released. Pick it up in paperback or Kindle on Amazon.

If you want to kick the cocktail up a notch but retain its same proportions, try using premium and/or rums slightly higher than 80 proof. At Tiki Oasis, King called for Denizen Merchant Reserve and Plantation Xaymaca, both 86-proof rums. The former is a blend of Jamaican pot still rum and Rhum Grande Arome from Martinique. The latter is a rich pot-still Jamaican rum. Both bring tons of flavor that elevate the drink and are highly recommended.

Based on King’s comments above, I would not be surprised to find Sunakora among the classic Don the Beachcomber cocktails on the menu when the first new location opens in Madeira Beach.

Okole maluna!

PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY!

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