Trader Vic's is a restaurant and Tiki bar chain headquartered in Emeryville, California, United States. Victor Jules Bergeron, Jr. (December 10, 1902, San Francisco – October 11, 1984, 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. The other was his amicable competitor for many years, Don the Beachcomber.
Bergeron attended Heald College in San Francisco. 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 in the Golden Gate District of Oakland. 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 1940 the first franchised Trader Vic's opened in Seattle, Washington. In 1950, Bergeron opened a Trader Vic's location in Hawaii and in 1951 at 20 Cosmo Place in San Francisco.
Beyond the Mai Tai, Bergeron's other more famous drinks included the Fog Cutter and the Scorpion Bowl. 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. The Scorpion Bowl in particular and its many variations proliferated onto the cocktail menus of virtually all subsequent Tiki bars. The menus from his restaurants could list dozens of different tropical drinks. 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).
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 Coordinates: nearby Emeryville, now considered the chain's flagship restaurant. In the 1980s and 1990s, the chain began to shrink as a younger generation had little connection to the chain's tiki theme. Poor locations or less trendy addresses took a 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. As of 2018 there are three Trader Vic's restaurants in the United States, two in Europe, eleven in the Middle East, two in East Asia, and one in Seychelles. The Trader Vic's Corporation also franchises restaurants and bars under the names the Mai Tai Lounge, Trader Vic's Island Bar & Grill (which opened in 2010 in Sarasota, Florida, and shuttered in 2013 - where the company experimented with a Hooters-like concept but not a true Hooters knockoff), and Señor Pico, which take the total restaurant count up to 28.
According to the Trader Vic's website, the Mai-Tai was invented by "Trader Vic" Bergeron in 1944 in Oakland, CA.
In addition to the current locations below, Trader Vic's has several future locations planned. A restaurant is planned for the Swiss-Belhotel Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. The hotel and restaurant are expected to open in 2015. A Trader Vic's was also planned for the Corbin Park development in Overland Park, Kansas, although opening was delayed when the Corbin Park developer filed for bankruptcy in 2010. Construction activity began resuming in 2012; however, a new completion date for Trader Vic's has not been announced.
|United Kingdom||Greater London||London||1963||Located in the London Hilton on Park Lane|
|Germany||Bavaria||Munich||1971||Located in the Hotel Bayerischer Hof|
|United States||California||Emeryville||1972||Flagship restaurant location|
|Japan||Tokyo Prefecture||Tokyo||1974||Located in the Hotel New Otani Tokyo|
|United States||Georgia||Atlanta||1976||Located on the lower level of the Hilton Atlanta|
|Thailand||Bangkok||1992||Located in the Anantara Bangkok Riverside, renovated and reopened in 2011|
|United Arab Emirates||Emirate of Abu Dhabi||Abu Dhabi||1994||Located in the Beach Rotana Hotel & Towers|
|United Arab Emirates||Dubai||Dubai||1994||Located in the Crowne Plaza Hotel Dubai|
|United Arab Emirates||Abu Dhabi||Al Ain||1999||Located in the Al Ain Rotana Hotel|
|Bahrain||Capital Governorate||Manama||2000||Located in the Seef district at the Ritz-Carlton|
|Oman||Muscat Governorate||Muscat||2000||Located in the InterContinental Hotel 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|
|Saudi Arabia||Riyadh||Riyadh||2009||Located in Panorama Mall|
|Qatar||Ad Dawhah||Doha||2012||Located in West Bay neighborhood at the Hilton Doha|
|United Arab Emirates||Ras Al Khaimah||Ras Al Khaimah||2014||Located in the Hilton Al Hamra Golf & Beach Resort|
|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||Opening Winter 2018/19||Located in San Jose International Airport|
|Country||State/Province||City||Year opened||Year closed||Notes|
|United States||Oregon||Portland||2011||Located in the Pearl District from 1996 to March 2016, formerly located in the Benson Hotel from 1959 to 1996||Rent for the location was said to be $20,000 a month and the restaurant never made a profit.|
|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||California||San Francisco||1951||1994||20 Cosmo Place|
|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 as a result of reconstruction plans to convert the hotel to a Waldorf Astoria. A Trader Vic's Lounge poolside bar was opened offering some of the signature drinks and limited food options.|
|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|
|United States||New York||New York||1958||1965||Located in the Savoy-Plaza Hotel; opened in April 1958; closed in 1965 when the hotel was demolished to make room for construction of the General Motors Building|
|Cuba||Havana||Havana||1958||1960||Opened in the Habana Hilton just before Castro took power in Cuba in 1959. After the hotel was nationalized 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.|
|United States||District of Columbia||Washington||1961||1995||Located in the Statler Hotel Washington, later known as the Capital Hilton|
|Canada||British Columbia||Vancouver||1961||1996||Located in the Westin Bayshore Resort & Marina at Coal Harbour|
|United States||Michigan||Detroit||1963||1975||Located in the Detroit Statler Hotel. Opened in 1963 while the hotel was operated under the Hilton name. Closed in 1975 along with the rest of the hotel after Detroit Edison ended utility service.|
|United States||Massachusetts||Boston||1965||?||This Trader Vic's was in the Statler Hilton (now Boston Park Plaza). It was in operation in the early '70s. A McCormick & Schmick's is in this spot now.|
|United States||New York||New York||1965||1989||Located in the basement of the Plaza Hotel; opened in 1965 following the closure of the previous location at the Savoy-Plaza Hotel; contained an outrigger canoe used in the film Mutiny on the Bounty; closed in 1989 as a result of Donald Trump's purchase of the Plaza Hotel. Trump considered Trader Vic's to be tacky and inconsistent with his vision for the hotel.|
|United States||Missouri||St. Louis||1968||1985||Located in the Bel Air East Motor Hotel at 4th and Washington|
|United States||Missouri||Kansas City||1973||1996||Located in Crown Center in the Westin Hotel; closed in 1996 when its lease was not renewed by the hotel|
|Canada||Ontario||Toronto||1975||1991||Located in the basement of the Hotel Toronto (now the Hilton Toronto). 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 closed at the Hotel Cosmopolitan|
|Japan||Osaka||1986||2006||Opened in September 1986 at the Hotel New Otani Osaka. Closed in June 2006.|
|Lebanon||Beirut||2000||2006||Opened in 2000 at the Gefinor Rotana Hotel. Closed in 2006.|
|United States||California||Palo Alto||2001||2012||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|
|Germany||Berlin||Berlin||2003||2009||Located at the Hilton Berlin; opened in April 2003; closed March 2009|
|Germany||Hamburg||Hamburg||1991||2013||Located at the Radisson Hotel|
|United States||California||San Francisco||2004||2007||Located in the Civic Center; closed December 2007|
|United States||Washington||Seattle||1948||1991||Located in the Benjamin Franklin Hotel (site of the present-day Westin Hotel); closed June 1991|
|United States||Washington||Bellevue||2006||2008||Located in Lincoln Square, adjacent to the Bellevue Westin; opened in March 2006; closed in August 2008|
|United States||Arizona||Scottsdale||2006||2011||Located in 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|
|China||Shanghai||2006||2008||Opened in December 2006; closed February 2008|
|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||Texas||Dallas||2007||2010||Located in the Hotel Palomar (former Hilton Inn); 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|
|United States||Texas||Houston||1965||1986||Located in the Shamrock Hilton|
|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 Miracle Mile Shops at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino; opened in October 2007; closed in 2009|
|China||Beijing||2007||2008||Opened in December 2007; closed in February 2008|
|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|
|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|
|India||Maharashtra||Mumbai||2013||UNKNOWN||Located in High Street Phoenix|
|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|
Books of recipes and stories
- 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 Helluva Man's Cookbook (1976)
Books published by third parties
- 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 discusses the franchise
In popular culture
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," presumably[according to whom?] referring to the chain's London location.
The restaurant is also referenced by Bill Murray's character Frank Cross to John Forsythe's character Lew Hayward in the 1988 movie "Scrooged."
- Trader Joe's, which was inspired in part by the success of Trader Vic's
- "Trader Vic put mai tai on the lips of millions". San Francisco Chronicle. November 11, 2004.
- Heald College: Career Education and Hands-On Learning Archived 2005-11-23 at the Wayback Machine
- "Google Maps". Google Maps.
- "1984: Trader Vic dies", San Francisco Chronicle (October 9, 2009)
- Trader Vic's legacy Archived 2010-01-24 at the Wayback Machine
- Berry, Jeff (2010). Beachbum Berry Remixed. San Jose: Club Tiki Press. p. 48.
- Bergeron, Victor (1948). Bartender's Guide ("Reprint Edition" ed.). Garden City Books. p. 19.
- Berry, Jeff (2010). Beachbum Berry Remixed. San Jose: Club Tiki Press. p. 68.
- "Trader Vic's Menu". menus.nypl.org. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
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- ""Corporate Contacts"". Archived from the original on November 10, 2006. Retrieved 2010-02-25.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link). Trader Vic's. Retrieved on February 25, 2010.
- ""Corporate Contacts"". Archived from the original on August 21, 2006. Retrieved 2010-02-25.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link). Trader Vic's. August 21, 2006. Retrieved on February 25, 2010.
- ""Contacts"". Archived from the original on March 19, 2008. Retrieved 2010-02-25.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link). Trader Vic's. March 19, 2008. Retrieved on February 25, 2010.
- Lucchesi, Paolo (September 16, 2010). "Trader Vic's Emeryville ready to reopen after a dark summer". Inside Scoop SF. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
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- Khalil, Ashraf (May 8, 2007). "Tikiphiles carrying a torch for Trader Vic's". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
- "Trader Vic's moves out of historic spot". Chicago Tribune. January 10, 2006. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
- Moruzzi, Peter (2009). Havana Before Castro: When Cuba Was a Tropical Playground. pp. 216–217. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
- "Trader Vic's/Polinesio, Havana, Cuba (restaurant)". Retrieved 24 July 2015.
- Burnett, Katherine (September 19, 2012). "Restaurants that Changed Vancouver: Trader Vic's". Spacing Vancouver. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
- Kohrman, David (27 March 2018). "Detroit's Statler and Book-Cadillac Hotels: The Anchors of Washington Boulevard". Arcadia Publishing – via Google Books.
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- "Trump to Close a 'Tacky' Trader Vic's". The New York Times. January 25, 1989. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
- Morabito, Greg (October 30, 2013). "Remembering Trader Vic's, New York's Favorite Tiki Bar". New York Eater. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
- Ferruzza, Charles (June 2, 2005). "High Steaks". The Pitch. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
- "Vintage Toronto Ad: Welcome to the Hotel Toronto". Torontoist. 26 June 2007.
- Siegelman, Stephen (4 February 2014). "Trader Vic's Tiki Party!: Cocktails and Food to Share with Friends". Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony – via Google Books.
- Savage, Daryl (July 23, 2012). "Shop Talk: Trader Vic's departs for The Sea". Palo Alto Weekly. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
- Bauer, Michael (March 10, 2002). "A little taste of paradise / Trader Vic's blends campy atmosphere with old-fashioned service, classic food". San Francisco Chronicle.
- Wang, Andy J. (March 26, 2009). "Trader Vic's Returns From Grave to Sue Over Construction". Curbed. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
- Leson, Nancy (August 26, 2008). "Trader Vic's Bellevue location didn't last long". The Seattle Times. Archived from the original on October 26, 2014. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
- Soenarie, Angelique (July 12, 2011). "Trader Vic's at Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale is closing". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
- "Trader Vic's to close?". Shanghaiist. December 21, 2007. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
- Nichols, Nancy (April 14, 2010). "Official Notice: Trader Vic's in Dallas Has Left the Building". D Magazine. Archived from the original on May 23, 2015. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
- Green, Steve (January 7, 2010). "Owner of closed Trader Vic's files for bankruptcy". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
- Wang, Jessica (February 19, 2008). "Trader Vic's Closed". The Beijinger. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
- Christopher, Rob (July 1, 2011). "The Sad Story of Trader Vic's in Chicago". Chicagoist. Archived from the original on February 22, 2015. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
- Kang, Matthew (April 1, 2014). "Five Years In, Trader Vic's at LA Live Serves Tiki No More". Los Angeles Eater. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
- "Trader Vic's Mai Tai Lounge - RMAL Hospitality". rmalhospitality.ae.
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