Coup De Tiki
Does anything beautiful last? Judging by the bottle of Tulamore Dew I polished off last night, the answer is a resounding “No.” And that cruel maxim also seems to apply to Tiki bars — I regret to inform you that Tiki Boyd’s at the Ramada is no more.
Which, to me anyway, came as a surprise. It was doing gangbuster business, the decor was steadily evolving, and the staff seemed relatively content.
Yet, literally in the space of just under an hour, it vanished off the face of Colfax Avenue.
Following which the rumor mill naturally went right to work. Word on the boulevard had it that the management was about to stage a coup d’etat of sorts, prompting the bar’s namesake and designer, Boyd Rice, to launch a brutal pre-emptive strike.
Regardless of the reasons, the facts are thus: on a cold winter day in January, Boyd enlisted the aid of six members of the now notorious Denver Gentleman’s Pipe Smoking League (site), and staged a brilliant daylight raid, stripping the lounge bare of Boyd’s decor in less than forty minutes. He also took the name with him.
After speaking with Boyd, it certainly appears he had the right to order the raid. He’d designed the bar on the cuff and owned the materials and artwork outright, so it was his to take.
But why, exactly, was the order given? What dire events could have passed that Boyd felt it necessary to disassemble the very thing that he’d so carefully and painstaking erected over the course of several months?
Determined to get the bottom of the story, I sat down with four of the members of the Denver Gentleman’s Pipe Smoking League who participated in the raid, namely Brian M. Clark, Lorin Partridge, Frank Bell, and our very own editor, Frank Rich.
Giles: The League is less than a month old and you’ve already have a successful military action under your belt. You must be pleased.
Frank R: Naturally. The impending statewide smoking ban had radicalized us. Also, the League is always ready to spring the aid of the oppressed.
Giles: The oppressed?
Brian: The staff of Tiki Boyd’s, which included myself and Lorin.
Lorin: The manager went mad with hubris and paranoia. You have to understand he went from a $50-a-day bar to one that would pull in nearly two grand a night. With very little effort on his part.
Brian: We gave him a free bar design, a half dozen signature Tiki drinks, a web site, an immaculate collection of rare exotica vinyl, sign and menu design, and so forth. But after six months of raking it in, he lost perspective on who’d made the place what it was, and started treating the people who’d given him charity like shit.
Giles: Tell me about the raid.
Frank R: It was clockwork. Drills whirred, hammers clawed, impeccably-dressed gentlemen shouldered materials toward a clandestinely parked vehicle. We even brought in some out-of-town talent to pin down the bartender with a flurry of complicated drink orders.
Frank B: We were like a rabid gang of hyenas ripping the guts out of a paralyzed water buffalo.
Giles: Great God!
Lorin: Don’t listen to him. It was utterly civilized. It was more like the raid on Entebbe, we —.
Frank B: Like a vicious pack of jackals feasting on the intestines of a crippled giraffe.
Frank R: Naw. It was more like when the Grinch swept through Whoville. When it was over all that was left was bare bulbs and bad vibes.
Brian: Except these particular Whos didn’t link arms and sing a happy song afterwards.
Lorin: Unless you consider savage cursing a form of song.
Giles: In Wales they do. Will the Tiki bar will reappear elsewhere?
Brian: The wheels are in motion. You can expect to see a much improved version within a month or so. Much more authentic, way more groovy.
Giles: Is that solid?
Frank R: As a rock. And this time the Drunkard will run the show.
–Giles Chatham Humbert III