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The making of a tiki bar – behind the scenes at Grass Skirt Tiki Room

Anne Evans Anne Evans The making of a tiki bar – behind the scenes at Grass Skirt Tiki RoomA tropical paradise with the hula girl in front of the waterfall feature. Photo by Jim Renauld.
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The Tiki Masks

Donald Drennan, who also is a member of The Fraternal Order of the Moai, created large tiki sculptures out of foam which are then covered in a cement coating for Grass Skirt.

“Our club doesn’t have the resources or experience to actually open and run a bar ourselves, but we do know how to create decor and mix drinks, so joining forces with Grass Skirt team to make our dream come true was a no-brainer,” says Drennan. “When we saw that they were sincere and serious in their commitment to open a real Tiki bar, not just a sports bar with a thatched roof or something, we all got behind it one hundred percent.”

Artist Donald Drennan with one of the Tiki masks he made for Grass Skirt. Photo by Jim Renaud.

“I made several things for Grass Skirt,” says Drennan. “That large mask, the ship’s rigging on the little half wall at the entrance (made the wood parts on my lathe at home), some cast concrete masks – poured a mixture of cement and sand and coloring into some plastic masks used as molds. I even brought in a picture of my mother wearing a grass skirt in a glamour shot from the 1940s.”

Some things he still would like to make include a large Easter Island head, rum crates, and animatronic toys repurposed as Tikis.

“I have also enjoyed getting to be friends with Carmen and Amy and everyone else. They’re a fun bunch of people. Grass Skirt’s really turned out to be awesome – the decor, the drinks, the music, the food – it’s a total tiki escape. Going there is like a little island vacation.

The Tiki Carvings

Jimmy “Chisel Slinger” Robinson, aforementioned founding member of the Fraternal Order of Moai. He was first drawn to Tiki culture after going to the Kahiki.

“It blew my mind and I never wanted to leave,” says Robinson. “So I kept that with me and made it a part of my everyday life. My favorite part of Tiki culture would be the escapism. And the friendliness of the people. After a day of work you can walk into a tiki bar and suddenly you’re on an island vacation…even in winter.”

Robinson has been working on tiki carvings for about fourteen years. “You couldn’t find tikis in Columbus,” says Robinson. “So I thought, well..better do them myself. I started with pine logs, brought back some palm from Florida and got busy. I carve on any type of wood really. After about a year, I started selling carvings at tiki events in Atlanta, Detroit, Florida. I even got some in the Hawaiian Inn in Daytona.”

Jimmy “Chisel Slinger” Robinson with some of his Tiki carvings at Grass Skirt. Photo by Carmen Owens.

So far, Robinson has carved about six Tikis for Grass Skirt.

“This is just phase one though,” he says. “Once its open, we can settle down and take our time. I’m looking forward to doing more detailed fun stuff. This is a real tiki joint! These drinks are the real deal, as is the food, and decor. A lot of very talented people were put to use. Columbus has no other place like it since the loss of the Kahiki.”

Other dear friends that contributed to the opening of Grass Skirt include Lelia Cady and Wally Himelstein who did a lot of woodworking, painting, staining, cleaning, and organizing; Diana Lessner who helped on decorating; Bryan “Bam Bam” Grey who collaborated with Brennick and Owens and did the artwork for the logo; Barb Eicke who did the graphic design, and many others who pitched in to help get the place ready.

Grass Skirt will open on Tuesday, September 25. They will be open at 6pm-12am Tuesday through Saturday of that week. After a few weeks they plan to add lunch and late night hours.

Visit Grass Skirt Tiki Bar on their Facebook page.

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