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Trader Vic's

Coordinates: 37°50′17″N 122°18′28″W / 37.8380°N 122.3078°W / 37.8380; -122.3078 (Trader Vic's Flagship Restaurant)
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Trader Vic's
Company typePrivate
FoundedNovember 17, 1934; 89 years ago (1934-11-17) as Hinky Dink's
FounderVictor Jules Bergeron, Jr
United States
Area served
United States
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
ProductsMai Tai
Old menu cover, original Trader Vic's, Oakland

Trader Vic's is a restaurant and tiki bar chain headquartered in Emeryville, California, United States. Victor Jules Bergeron, Jr. (December 10, 1902 in San Francisco – October 11, 1984 in Hillsborough, California) founded a chain of Polynesian-themed restaurants that bore his nickname, "Trader Vic". He was one of two people who claimed to have invented the Mai Tai.[1] The other was his amicable competitor for many years, Donn Beach of the "Don the Beachcomber" restaurants.


Bergeron attended Heald College in San Francisco.[2] On November 17, 1934, using $500 in borrowed money, Bergeron opened a small bar/restaurant across from his parents' grocery store at San Pablo Avenue and 65th Street[3] in the Golden Gate District of Oakland.[4] He named it Hinky Dink's. As its popularity spread, the menu and decor developed an increasingly tropical flair, and Hinky Dink's soon became Trader Vic's.

In 1949, Western Hotels executive Edward Carlson convinced Bergeron to open his first franchised location in the Benjamin Franklin Hotel in Seattle.[5] Originally a small bar named The Outrigger, it was expanded into a full restaurant in 1954 and renamed Trader Vic's in 1960.[6] Due to the restaurant's success, Bergeron worked with Western Hotels to open Trader Vic's locations in a number of their hotels. In 1940, Bergeron opened a Trader Vic's location in Hawaii[7] and in 1951 at 20 Cosmo Place in San Francisco.[4]

Because Bergeron lacked the capital to expand, he partnered with Hilton Hotels. Conrad Hilton opened his first Trader Vic's in The Beverly Hilton in 1955. Two years later, Hilton opened another Trader Vic's in The Palmer House in Chicago, and then licensed the Trader Vic's brand for use throughout his chain for $2,000,000, retaining Bergeron to oversee the decoration, staffing and operation of the restaurants for an annual salary of $65,000.[8] Hilton soon estimated the popular Trader Vic's establishments were earning his hotel chain $5 million a year. Sheraton Hotels quickly opened competing chains of tiki restaurants in their hotels, known as Ports O' Call and Kon-Tiki.[8]

During the Tiki culture fad of the 1950s and 1960s, as many as 25 Trader Vic's restaurants were in operation worldwide. They all featured the popular mix of Polynesian artifacts, unique cocktails, and exotic cuisine. The chain of restaurants grew and is credited as one of the first successful themed chains, a marketing model that many other restaurants followed.

In 1972 the original location in Oakland was closed and replaced by a bayfront restaurant in 37°50′17″N 122°18′28″W / 37.8380°N 122.3078°W / 37.8380; -122.3078 (Trader Vic's Flagship Restaurant) nearby Emeryville, now considered the chain's flagship restaurant. In the 1980s and 1990s, the chain began to shrink as the tiki theme carried little resonance with a younger generation. Poor locations or less trendy addresses took a further toll on the chain's popularity. While many of the original locations have closed, Trader Vic's once again has grown to 18 locations around the globe due to a revival in popularity of tiki culture.[9]

As of 2024, there are three Trader Vic's restaurants in the United States, one in Europe, ten in the Middle East, two in Asia, and one in Africa.

The Trader Vic's Corporation has also franchised restaurants and bars under the names the Mai Tai Lounge (all locations defunct), Trader Vic's Island Bar & Grill (opened 2010 in Sarasota, Florida, shuttered in 2013 – where the company experimented with a Margaritaville-like concept), and Señor Pico.[10][11] There is one remaining Señor Pico location at The Palm Dubai.


According to the Trader Vic's website, the Mai-Tai was invented by "Trader Vic" Bergeron in 1944 in Oakland, California.

Beyond the Mai Tai, Bergeron's other more famous drinks included the Fog Cutter and the Scorpion Bowl.[12] Both drinks were served in a specific and highly decorated mug or bowl. His take on a Hot buttered rum was also an early example calling for a specific ceramic mug, in this case a skull.[13] The Scorpion Bowl in particular and its many variations proliferated onto the cocktail menus of virtually all subsequent Tiki bars.[14] The menus from his restaurants could list dozens of different tropical drinks.[15] As was the case with Don the Beachcomber, rum was the hallmark ingredient in most of his cocktails, but Vic is also credited with creating the Eastern Sour, which employed less common (for Tiki drinks) rye whiskey, and another drink using even more rarely used tequila (the Mexican El Diablo).


The company is headquartered in Emeryville, California.[16]

At times the company had its headquarters in several locations in the San Francisco Bay Area, including Corte Madera and San Rafael.[17][18]

Current locations[edit]

Country State/Province City Year opened Notes
Germany Bavaria Munich 1971 Located in the Hotel Bayerischer Hof
United States California Emeryville 1972 Flagship restaurant location[19]
Japan Tokyo Tokyo 1974 Located in the Hotel New Otani Tokyo
United States Georgia Atlanta 1976 Located in the Hilton Atlanta
Thailand Bangkok 1992 Located in the Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort, formerly Marriott Royal Gardens Riverside
United Arab Emirates Emirate of Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi 1994 Located in the Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates Dubai Dubai 1994 Located in the Crowne Plaza Dubai
United Arab Emirates Abu Dhabi Al Ain 1999 Located in the Al Ain Rotana Hotel
Bahrain Capital Governorate Manama 2000 Located in The Ritz-Carlton Bahrain, formerly Le Royal Meridien Bahrain
Oman Muscat Governorate Muscat 2000 Located in the InterContinental Muscat in Shati Al-Qurm
United Arab Emirates Dubai Dubai 2004 Located in Souk Madinat Jumeirah
Jordan Amman Amman 2007 Located in the Regency Palace Hotel
Qatar Ad Dawhah Doha 2012 Located in the Hilton Doha in West Bay
Seychelles Mahe Island Beau Vallon 2017 Located in the H Resort
United Arab Emirates Dubai Dubai 2018 Located in the Hilton Dubai Jumeirah
United States California San Jose 2021[20] Trader Vic's Outpost – Located in San Jose International Airport
United Arab Emirates Dubai Palm Jumeirah 2022[21] Located in the Hilton Dubai Palm Jumeirah

Former locations[edit]

Country State/Province City Year opened Year closed Notes
United States California Oakland 1934 1972 The original Trader Vic's restaurant, originally known as "Hinky Dink's"; closed and relocated to Emeryville, California, in November 1972
United States Washington Seattle 1948 1969 Originally opened under the name "The Outrigger", located in the Benjamin Franklin Hotel. Name changed to Trader Vic's in 1960. Moved to the adjoining Washington Plaza Hotel when it opened in 1969
United States California San Francisco 1951 1994[22] 20 Cosmo Place[4][23]
United States Colorado Denver 1954 1978 Originally opened under the name "The Outrigger", located in Hotel Cosmopolitan at 18th and Broadway. Name changed to Trader Vic's in 1962. Closed in 1978 when Trader Vic's opened a different location at the Denver Hilton.
United States California Beverly Hills 1955 2007 Located in The Beverly Hilton; closed in April 2007 when that wing of the hotel was demolished to construct the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills. A Trader Vic's Lounge poolside bar was then opened at the Beverly Hilton, offering some of the signature drinks and limited food options, but this too closed, in 2017.[24][25]
United States Illinois Chicago 1957 2005 Located in The Palmer House Hilton; closed on New Year's Eve in December 2005 as a result of the hotel's acquisition by Thor Equities[26]
United States New York New York 1958 1965 Located in the Savoy Hilton and opened in April 1958.[27] It closed in 1965 when the hotel was demolished to make room for construction of the General Motors Building.[28]
Cuba Havana Havana 1958 1960 Located in the Habana Hilton. Opened just before Castro took power in Cuba in 1959. After the hotel was nationalized in 1960 and renamed the Habana Libre, the restaurant was renamed Polinesio, and still operates today with the original tiki theme and much of the original Trader Vic's decor.[29][30]
United States Oregon Portland 1959 1996 Located in the Benson Hotel
United States District of Columbia Washington 1961 1995 Located in the Statler Hilton A temporary pop-up location reopened in the hotel's bar in the summer of 2022, from Memorial Day to Labor Day.[31]
Canada British Columbia Vancouver 1961 1996 Located in The Bayshore Inn, later known as The Westin Bayshore[32]
United States Puerto Rico San Juan 1961 Circa 1965 Located in the Caribe Hilton
United States Arizona Scottsdale 1962 1990 Located in the Fifth Avenue shopping district
United Kingdom England London 1963 2022 Located in the Hilton Park Lane
United States Michigan Detroit 1963 1975 Located in the Statler Hilton. Opened in 1963. Closed in 1975 along with the rest of the hotel after Detroit Edison ended utility service.[33][34][35]
United States Massachusetts Boston 1965 1976 Located in the Statler Hilton; closed in December 1976 when Hilton sold the hotel.[36] This location is now a McCormick & Schmick's.
United States New York New York 1965 1989 Located in the basement of the Plaza Hotel and opened in 1965 following the closure of the previous location at the Savoy-Plaza Hotel. It contained an outrigger canoe used in the film Mutiny on the Bounty. It closed in 1989 after Donald Trump purchased the Plaza Hotel, since Trump considered Trader Vic's to be tacky and inconsistent with his vision for the hotel.[37][38] It opened virtually unchanged six months later as "Gaugin's" and was most recently the location of the Todd English Food Hall.
United States Texas Houston 1965 1986 Located in the Shamrock Hilton
United States Texas Dallas 1967 1989 Located in the Hilton Inn off North Central Expressway and Mockingbird Lane; opened in March 1967; closed in 1989
United States Missouri St. Louis 1968 1985 Located in the Bel Air Hilton at 4th and Washington
United States Washington Seattle 1969 1991 Moved from the adjoining Benjamin Franklin Hotel to the new Washington Plaza Hotel, later the Westin Seattle; closed June 1991[39]
United States Florida St. Petersburg 1971 1973 Located in the Sheraton-Bel Air
United States Missouri Kansas City 1973 1996 Located in the Crown Center Hotel, later The Westin Hotel; closed in 1996 when its lease was not renewed by the hotel[40]
Canada Ontario Toronto 1975[41] 1991 Located in the basement of the Hotel Toronto, later the Hilton Toronto.[41][42] Now occupied by a Ruth's Chris Steak House.
United States Colorado Denver 1978 1985 Opened in the Denver Hilton in 1978 after the previous Denver location at the Hotel Cosmopolitan closed
Singapore Singapore 1984 2003 Located in the New Otani Hotel
Japan Osaka 1986 2006 Opened in September 1986 in the Hotel New Otani Osaka. Closed in June 2006.
Germany North Rhine-Westphalia Düsseldorf 1987 1999 Located in the Hotel Breidenbacher Hof. Closed in 1999, along with the hotel, was eventually torn down and rebuilt. The hotel reopened in 2008, without Trader Vic's.
Germany Hamburg Hamburg 1991 2013 Located at the Radisson SAS Hotel
Taiwan New Taipei City Taipei 1993 2010
Spain Málaga Marbella 1997 2009
Japan Fukuoka Prefecture Fukuoka 1999 2003
Lebanon Beirut Governorate Beirut 2000 2006 Located in the Gefinor Rotana Hotel
Egypt Cairo Governorate Cairo 2000 2006 Located in the Sheraton Royal Gardens Hotel
United States California Palo Alto 2001 2012 Located in Dinah's Garden Hotel. When it opened in 2001, it was the first new Trader Vic's location in the United States in 28 years. Closed in August 2012[43][44]
Germany Berlin Berlin 2003 2009 Located in the Hilton Berlin; opened in April 2003; closed March 2009
United States California San Francisco 2004 2007 Located in the Civic Center; closed December 2007[45]
United States Washington Bellevue 2006 2008 Located in Lincoln Square, adjacent to the Bellevue Westin; opened in March 2006; closed in August 2008[46]
United States Arizona Scottsdale 2006 2011 Located in the Hotel Valley Ho; opened in summer 2006; closed in July 2011 to make way for a more casual restaurant that would be open for more than just dinner[47]
China Shanghai 2006 2008 Opened in December 2006; closed February 2008[48]
United States Texas Dallas 2007 2010 Located in the Hotel Palomar (formerly the Hilton Inn, where there was a location from 1967 to 1989); opened in March 2007; closed in January 2010 for temporary renovations due to a burst pipe; closure was announced to be permanent in April 2010[49]
United States Florida Destin 2007 2010 Located in The Palms of Destin Resort; opened in April 2007; closed in 2010
United States Nevada Las Vegas 2007 2009 Located in the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino's Miracle Mile Shops; opened in October 2007; closed in 2009[50]
China Beijing 2007 2008 Opened in December 2007; closed in February 2008[51]
United States Illinois Chicago 2008 2011 Opened in December 2008 on the ground floor of the Newberry Plaza building, using much of the original decor from the former Palmer House Hilton location; closed in July 2011[52]
United States California Los Angeles 2009 2014 Located in the L.A. Live entertainment district, adjacent to the Staples Center; opened in 2009; closed March 2014[53]
India Maharashtra Mumbai 2013 2017 Located in High Street Phoenix
India Karnataka Bangalore 2012 2015 Located in Phoenix Marketcity[54]
Saudi Arabia Riyadh Riyadh 2009 2019 Located in the Panorama Mall
United States Oregon Portland 2011 2016 Located in the Pearl District from 2011 to March 2016,[55] Rent for the location was said to be $20,000 a month and the restaurant never made a profit.
United Arab Emirates Dubai Dubai 2012 UNKNOWN Located in Dubai Festival City
United Arab Emirates Dubai Dubai 2014 UNKNOWN Trader Vic's Mai-Tai Lounge; Located in Al Fattan Marine Towers[56]
United Arab Emirates Ras Al Khaimah Ras Al Khaimah 2014[57] 2021 Trader Vic's Mai-Tai Lounge; Located in the Hilton Al Hamra Beach & Golf Resort

Books of recipes and stories[edit]

  • Trader Vic's Book of Food and Drink (1946)
  • Bartender's Guide by Trader Vic (1947)
  • Trader Vic's Kitchen Kibitzer (1952)
  • Trader Vic's Pacific Island Cookbook (1968)
  • Trader Vic's Bartenders Guide (1972)
  • The Menehunes (1972)
  • Trader Vic's Book of Mexican Cooking (1973)
  • Frankly Speaking: Trader Vic's Own Story (1973) (ISBN 0385031750)
  • Trader Vic's Rum Cookery & Drinkery (1974)
  • Trader Vic's Helluva Man's Cookbook (1976)

Books published by third parties[edit]

  • Trader Vic's Tiki Party!: Cocktails & Food to Share with Friends
  • Cocktails of the South Pacific and Beyond (with a detailed early history of Trader Vic's original location)
  • Smuggler's Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum, and the Cult of Tiki by Martin Cate with Rebecca Cate[58] discusses the franchise

In popular culture[edit]

The song "Werewolves of London," a Top 40 hit co-written by Warren Zevon and appearing on his 1978 album Excitable Boy, contains the line "I saw a werewolf drinking a piña colada at Trader Vic's."[59] The Trader Vic's in London opened in 1963.[60]

The restaurant is also referenced by Bill Murray's character, Frank Cross, to John Forsythe's character, Lew Hayward, in the 1988 movie Scrooged.[citation needed]

In the film Frost/Nixon the character of David Frost orders takeout from Trader Vic's while staying in The Beverly Hilton, which formerly had a Trader Vic's location inside the hotel. The character orders a cheeseburger. [citation needed]

In the film Thunder Force Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy dine at a Trader Vic's (scene filmed on location at Atlanta Trader Vic’s).

In the New York Times bestseller and 2012 100 Notable Books, Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter, Trader Vic's in Seattle Washington is the setting of a scene between two characters in September 1967. In Chapter 16, "After the Fall" a couple meet at Trader Vic's and one walks "into a burst of warm air and bamboo, tiki and totem, dugout canoe hung from the ceiling."

See also[edit]

  • Trader Joe's, which was inspired in part by the success of Trader Vic's


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  41. ^ a b "Vintage Toronto Ad: Welcome to the Hotel Toronto". Torontoist. 26 June 2007.
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  57. ^ "Business Real Estate News | Technology | Travel Guide". www.ameinfo.com. October 2014.
  58. ^ "Smuggler's Cove". Smuggler's Cove.
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External links[edit]