By Jim Boyce | Tiki Bungalow survived two venue changes while serving the city’s Polynesian-themed drink fans over the past three and a half years. Now it will get a fourth life with an ownership change, as explained by founder Phil Tory on WeChat an hour ago:
TIKI CHANGING HANDS!!
This is the final week for the founders of The Tiki Bungalow! We all have different obligations and are finding it increasingly difficult to spend time running the bar. We’ve had several offers and decided it’s time to accept one.
As of Sunday, Tiki will be changing hands. The new owner will be Di Wei Hung, entrepreneur and owner of two Beijing bars.
Thanks for all the great times and support that have made The Tiki Bungalow a popular and award winning bar! We wish the new owner great success in the future.
Your hosts Oliver and Peter will be around all week to say farewell and give out free shots and drink treats! We are also running HAPPY HOUR ALL NIGHT EVERY NIGHT THIS WEEK! Plus, there will be a big party this Friday and Saturday night, giving you the chance to say goodbye and meet the new owner!
Tory started Tiki Bungalow in a modest Julian Tavalin-approved space in Dongsijiutaio Hutong in the spring of 2015. That lasted just months. He then teamed up with Oliver Davies and Peter Carey to open a bigger bar in Jiaodaokou San Tiao that fall and they steadily built a following.
The team took over neighbor Obsession Bistro about 15 months later to create The Iguana Room. Sadly, just months after that, they were given 48 hours to vacate both bars as the spaces were deemed illegal and swiftly demolished. At that time, I wrote about what made Tiki special to me:
The place offered precisely made Tiki and “lost classic” cocktails, a smart menu that featured watercolor images, and a kitschy vibe—including an inflatable shark named Higgins—that was just right. The drinks were potent, from the rye-driven Scofflaw, a cocktail said to have both shot the sheriff and the deputy, to the three-rum Jet Pilot that burst through one’s liver at the speed of sound. And they were served at more than fair prices. (Speaking of Higgins, see the preferred tipples of Davies and this shark here.)
Not ready to throw in the Tiki towel, Tory, Davies and Carey found a space just across the street, near craft brew specialists Beiping, where the drinks have since flowed.
Now they are selling the bar. It’s not entirely surprising given Tory is in Guangzhou and both Davies and Carey are busy with jobs and family. And as Davies told me, a bar like Tiki is an intensive undertaking, given how hard it is to teach new staff a wide-ranging menu of often-complex drinks as well as creating many of the ingredients that go into them.
What will the future hold for Tiki Bungalow? The Beijing bar scene has mixed results when it comes to bar takeovers. The complexity of the Tiki menu, the many suppliers needed to keep proper stock and the intense detail given to everything from decor to music mean keeping it going “as is” will require a lot of effort. On the other hand, perhaps the new ownership will want to use certain aspects of the bar while adding some of their own. Who knows? One thing is for sure, if you want to get a few more Scofflaws or Mai Tais made under the current team, get over there soon.
Note: Tiki Bungalow has participated in several events I help organize, from holding a Magnum PI-themed party for charity campaign Maovember to making the Goodbye Fu Manchu for World Baijiu Day.
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