When fans of tiki culture and fluorescently fabulous rum drinks and Polynesian platters lament the passing of their favorite bygone restaurants, they very often add an asterisk that goes something like this: "well, at least Bahooka is still here."
The Rosemead landmark, known for its glowing fish tanks and classic mai tai cocktails, was set to celebrate its half-century birthday in just a couple of years. But alas, alas, it shall not.
Chris Nichols, that mid-century maven in touch with all the tiki doings around town, reported on Friday, Feb. 15 that the low-lit restaurant will serve its very last Strawberry Colada and Crab Puff on Sunday, March 10.
Mr. Nichols writes in LA Magazine that the current co-owner is selling "quickly" due to a loved one's illness. The new owners will take the building and, interestingly, the fish tanks, but not the name, which was not for sale.
So many Southern Californians are likely to feel a surge of nostalgia when they catch wind of this, certainly about the dozens of fish tanks, which were always a kid favorite, and the quintessential tiki cocktails. But people love Bahooka for its continuing commitment to a retro aesthetic even when fashions and tastes periodically headed in other directions.
Of course, to the Bahooka buff, the happy-busy style of decor much associated with the Rosemead Boulevard eatery was always in fashion. And one always wondered if set designers desiring to replicate a certain '60s-era tiki chic didn't pay a few visits to Bahooka during pre-production.
Farewell, Bahooka. We're raising a Scorpion in your direction. And perhaps we'll join your fans who are already writing fond goodbyes on your Facebook wall. (And cheers, Vintage LA, for your words about the spot.)
And now we're tempted to stop by Clearman's North Woods Inn, that other vintage-sweet, oh-so-themed landmark of Rosemead Boulevard, for some peanuts and a beer.
photos: Sam Howzit