Tiki Hut Polynesian Restaurants (1978-1983) was a small chain of fast-casual Polynesian restaurants founded by franchise attorney Robert Purvin Jr and partners in San Diego County.The restaurants served ‘Hawaiian fast food’ – their versions of won-tons called ‘tikis,’ and small teriyaki skewers. Twelve varieties of tikis were offered in beef/pork, chicken, shrimp, vegetarian, cheese, ham & cheese, and even blueberry, cherry or peach for dessert!
“America’s First Polynesian Fast Food!”
The first location opened up with much fanfare at the corner of Laurel Street and Fifth Avenue near Balboa Park (now where Corner Draft House resides). On opening day, they staged a parade with Polynesian dancers and drums through Balboa Park, down Laurel Street to the restaurant. The Tiki Hut ‘army’ was to liberate San Diego from fast food ‘hamburger-ennui.’
After purchasing a failing Popeye’s Chicken franchise in National City, Purvin and a group of investors reopened it as their second location in March 1981. In a nod to the Baskin-Robbins organization, manager Jim Breckenridge called their franchise the ‘31 Flavors of Won Tons.’
Every Night is Tiki Luau Night
Advertised as a ‘sumptuous island feast,’ their mostly deep-fried, all-you-could-eat buffet consisted of Tiki Ton Soup, Teriyaki Strips, Tikis, Rice, Tiki Slaw, Fruit Salad, Tiki Chips and Dessert Tikis… $4.45. Draft beer, 40¢.
Tiki Hut No. 1 (1978)
2468 Fifth Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101
National City (1981)
Tiki Hut No. 2
2333 Highland Avenue
National City, CA 91950
Citation: Martin S. Lindsay. ‘Tiki Hut Polynesian Restaurants.’ Classic San Diego: tasty bites from the history of America’s finest city. Web. < https://classicsandiego.com/restaurants/tiki-hut-polynesian-restaurants/>