Chin Tiki - Detroit MI

Address: 2121 Cass Ave
City: Detroit
State: MI
Zip: 48201
County: Wayne
Number of visits to this page: 1840

Please note that location entries may feature older photos or post card views that may not represent the current appearance, features, addresses, phone numbers, or contact names of the attraction. This site is intended to be a historical as well as current record of various attractions but it is not always possible to have up-to-date information due to the vast number of locations featured here. We ask you consult the propietor for current information.

General Information:

Summarized from 2009 Detroit News Article:

Chin Tiki goes back to 1967 during a period in which Polynesian Culture was very popular. The musical and film "South Pacific" sparked this interest from 1949 onward. It was built by Marvin Chin, who had worked as an engineer at Ford Motor Co. The restaurant featured a lavishly decorated lower level lounge-restaurant with Tiki statues, waterfalls and a bamboo bridge. The restaurant closed in 1980, but was used for the Eminem movie "8 Mile" as a location for a few scenes.

From Wikipedia:

The Chin Tiki saw construction begin in 1965 and opened in July 1966. A former engineer for Ford, Chin designed the restaurant himself, and had a hand in most of the construction. Inspired by the burgeoning Tiki culture fad of the 1950s and 1960s, the first floor restaurant was ornately decorated "with towering tiki statues, waterfalls and a bamboo bridge." It also featured a large black light aquarium mural. The drink menu included well known tiki drinks such as the Sharks Tooth, Head Hunter, and Fog Cutter, as well as the Chin Tiki Punch and the Chin Tiki Special, which was a communal drink meant for sharing, served in a large clam shell with long straws, and described as "a fusing of fine rums, brandy, liqueurs and fresh fruit juices crowned with a gardenia".

Chuck Thurston of the Detroit Free Press described what it was like to visit the Chin Tiki in August 1966:

In order to get into Chin Tiki at 2121 Cass you have to reach into an idol's eye, a rather unnerving experience, but once inside, Detroit’s new Polynesian restaurant is softly-lit, cool and decorated to make one hear the distant boom of surf on the outer reef of the atoll. It is wise to consult one of the bare-foot waitresses extensively about the menu. But you can’t go wrong with Kau Kau (pronounced Koah Koah), which is a collection of things done with fish, pork, chicken and lobster. The Chin Tiki specializes in drinks formulated with exotic and obscure juices but you can get an excellent Martini of you are properly polite.

The second floor housed a spacious nightclub with an even larger waterfall, imitation rock walls and a rattan covered stage. The Chin Tiki hosted live music and an authentic Polynesian floor show with Hawaiian dancers and fire-breathers. The restaurant was said to be frequented by such celebrities as Muhammad Ali, Barbra Streisand and Joe DiMaggio.

One of Chin's early competitors was the other large Detroit area Tiki restaurant named the Mauna Loa, but it was short lived.

Following Detroit's economic downturn, Chin shuttered Chin Tiki in 1980, where it remained untouched for two decades and was deemed "a Tiki tomb, a time capsule," by local tiki enthusiasts. However, after Chin died in 2006 his family quickly sold the building to Olympia Development LLC, owned by Detroit mogul Mike Ilitch and family. The building was torn down in 2009.

Info Updates:
No Updates Found
Chin Tiki - From Library Of Congress
From Library Of Congress
Chin Tiki - From Wikipedia
From Wikipedia
Chin Tiki - From Dave Chow Illustrations
From Dave Chow Illustrations
Chin Tiki - From My Tiki Life
From My Tiki Life
Chin Tiki - From My Tiki Life
From My Tiki Life
Chin Tiki - From My Tiki Life
From My Tiki Life
Chin Tiki - From My Tiki Life
From My Tiki Life
Chin Tiki - From My Tiki Life
From My Tiki Life
Chin Tiki - From My Tiki Life
From My Tiki Life
Chin Tiki - From Metro Times
From Metro Times
Chin Tiki - Vintage Postcard
Vintage Postcard
Chin Tiki - Vintage Postcard
Vintage Postcard
Chin Tiki - 1974 Northwestern High Yearbook
1974 Northwestern High Yearbook
Chin Tiki - 1968 Thurston High Yearbook
1968 Thurston High Yearbook
Chin Tiki - Frankenmuth High 1967 Yearbook
Frankenmuth High 1967 Yearbook
Chin Tiki - 1974 Immaculata High Yearbook
1974 Immaculata High Yearbook
Chin Tiki - 1973 Immaculata High Yearbook
1973 Immaculata High Yearbook
Chin Tiki - Then And Now Comparison
Then And Now Comparison
Chin Tiki - Former Location Aerial
Former Location Aerial
Chin Tiki - Mar 2009 Article
Mar 2009 Article
Chin Tiki - Nov 2002 Article
Nov 2002 Article
Chin Tiki - June 15 1970 Article
June 15 1970 Article
Chin Tiki - Matchbook
Chin Tiki - Matchbook
Chin Tiki - Coasters
Chin Tiki - Souvenir
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