Bahooka, The Craziest Most Wonderful Tiki Restaurant In L.A. To Close - Digest - Los Angeles magazine

Bahooka, The Craziest Most Wonderful Tiki Restaurant In L.A. To Close

No! No! No! This can't be happening. Bahooka, the most lavish, bizarre and wonderful restaurant ever built in Los Angeles (did I mention the drinks are served on fire and in salad bowls?) will be gone by next month. The massive labyrinth of flotsam and jetsam, filled with hundreds of blue glowing fish tanks, tikis. street signs, plastic birds, and a jail cell, will close its doors on March 10th after 46 years in business. The first Bahooka opened in my hometown of West Covina but was just a tiny guppy compared to the full majesty of the Rosemead location, which sold after just one day on the market. “They don’t want tiki around here, they want Asian,” says co-owner Suzanne Schneider. “The new owner just wants the building, the liquor license and the fish.” Schneider would not sell the Bahooka name as she plans to sell a line of salad dressing through Costco. A sick relative caused her to act quickly to dispose of the beloved restaurant. Schneider is planning a going away party on March 10th. I’ve been a regular since I was in diapers. I’ve celebrated birthdays, marked funerals, brought tour groups inside, and fed Rufus the giant Pacu for so long that I don’t know if I can handle a funeral for Bahooka itself. Goodbye old friend.


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  1. Diana Gosliga posted on 02/15/2013 03:26 PM
    Who is taking Pacu? They aren't going to kill him are they?
    1. Charles Bennett posted on 02/15/2013 10:23 PM
      @Diana Gosliga If the owner wants the fish, I assume he'll take Pacu...
  2. EH posted on 02/15/2013 03:29 PM
    This is terrible news. One of the few places with character in the San Gabriel Valley, it's such a shame to lose this great, unique place!
  3. PhilG posted on 02/15/2013 03:38 PM
    Talk about underpricing a property. Fire that listing agent.
    Of course things sell in 1 day if you give them away.
    1. RG3 posted on 02/15/2013 03:56 PM
      @PhilG Did I miss a mention of a selling price? I see no mention of a "sold" amount. I'm certain it sold for a pretty penny. Commercial real estate in that area goes for fairly high money. Shame though. Never been so I should make it a point to go before it goes.
  4. Manglor posted on 02/15/2013 03:40 PM
    Since when is Rosemead in Los Angeles? Might as well be in another country.
    1. pasnat54 posted on 02/15/2013 04:02 PM
      @Manglor Rosemead might as well be in another country? You must be a Westsider.

      Well, you're right. Rosemead, and Pasadena, and Monrovia, and Arcadia, and Sierra Madre are way too far away from you, so don't worry about ever coming over here. No reason to make the drive. Nothing to attract hipsters. Nope, not worth your time. Nothing to see out here. Best to stay away.

      In other words, Westsiders... PLEASE stay home. We have a great valley out here and don't need it to get "discovered" and Westsided.
    2. Tony posted on 02/15/2013 04:35 PM
      @Manglor Lame. Rosemead is part of Los Angeles county knucklehead.
  5. Paul Hansen posted on 02/15/2013 03:45 PM
    It must be hard to get top dollar for your property when it's located next to a mental institution.
    1. Belinda posted on 03/02/2013 03:21 PM
      @Paul Hansen Hey, I was IN that mental institution in the summer of 1968! There was no room in the teen ward so they put me in with the adults. There was one guy who played Nights In White Satin over and over again all day!!!! My room mate was some sort of depressive who hardly ever got out of bed and we watched the Democratic Convention (the violent one in Chicago) and I got so upset seeing the pigs beat on the kids they turned the TV off. As for Bahooka, this is a tragedy. I will be driving up from San Diego just to have one last moment there!!!!!
  6. Steven Price posted on 02/15/2013 04:10 PM
    The owner says: "They don’t want tiki around here, they want Asian"... as if there is some kind of shortage? There are literally THOUSANDS of Asian restos everywhere in the San Gabriel Valley!

    I sincerely think this is nuts. People taking the ONE DISTINCTIVE THING in any area -- food, housing, you name it -- destroying it, and putting something just like everything else in its place ("what Hollywood needs is a really good gourmet burger place." -- i'll bet some idiot is thinking, right now). It's saddening, maddening.
  7. Mike Kim posted on 02/15/2013 04:37 PM
    RIP :(. I remember as a kid passing by this restaurant and always wondering what the heck this place was. Finally as an adult I got to go see all the crazy stuff in the restaurant! Nothing like it out there. So sad to see how much it's changed out there, especially TC, my hometown!
  8. Karie Bible posted on 02/15/2013 04:37 PM
    I'm devastated to hear this news! That place had so much charm and character! It so surreal and felt like being in a David Lynch film. Bahooka will be dearly missed.
  9. Tom Slick posted on 02/15/2013 04:40 PM
    This is just a shame. Location is everything, and unfortunately Bahooka just isn't in the best demographic area, anymore. in 1967, they were in a marketable area, with people who at one time supported and patronized the business on a weekly basis. Since then, the demographics have changed, as well as the surrounding landscapes, and along with that, so has people's tastes. I wish the business didn't suffer the burdens, as it seems it may have, and really wished it was on the market a bit longer, to maybe entertain the thought of keeping it open with a like-minded buyer, maybe making minor changes and improvements. It will be sorely missed, and only regret not being able to patronize it more often myself.
  10. candyisdandy posted on 02/15/2013 04:57 PM
    Say it ain't so. Don't they have enough Asian restaurants around here?
  11. Seaside Freddy posted on 02/15/2013 05:28 PM
    They want Asian, not Tiki? There can't be both? My god, people sure are boring now.
  12. Jimmy Rustles posted on 02/15/2013 07:37 PM
    "They want asian?"

    Way to make it a race issue. You ever wonder maybe its because their food isn't all that great and at the same time pricey. The ambiance might be "interesting" but its not going to draw me back to it. I say that loosely because, for one, I've never once seen them renovate anything at all. I'm a Rosemead resident, and I've only been there once. Never once did I think, "Lets go to Bahooka's. Their food is amazing."

    Adding to the Asian thing, I take offense that the owner actually blames the Asian community for their loss of business. I mean the In-N-Out down the street isn't taking any business away from them with their fairly priced food right? Or those many other American restaurants more North (San Marino's "B-Man's Teriyaki & Burgers" comes to mind). I can guarantee you if you Yelp "Burgers" around the SGV you'll get a ton of results and guess what they're doing fine and also have higher ratings.

    I can guarantee if Bahookas had something worthwhile, Asians would be going to eat there. I actually would drive past Bahookas and frequent B-Man's for a burger crave. A good percentage of the customers I see are Asian. Again, if you can't compete, don't blame the demographics.

    Good riddance IMO.
    1. Russel D Jimmies posted on 02/15/2013 08:04 PM
      @Jimmy Rustles +1 for B-Man's
    2. Roz P posted on 02/15/2013 10:22 PM
      @Jimmy Rustles javascript:WebForm_DoPostBackWithOptions(new WebForm_PostBackOptions("ctl00$MainFull$GenericControl5$uc73867103f2a245958f90e70d1ed893d5$ucComments$ucReply$ucAnonymousReply$btnSubmit", "", true, "ctl00_MainFull_GenericControl5_uc73867103f2a245958f90e70d1ed893d5_ucComments_ucReply_ucAnonymousReply", "", false, true))
  13. maryam posted on 02/15/2013 07:52 PM
    it would be nice if the owner wanted to keep some of it ala noodle world on valley in alhambra. and probably a smart business move on the part of the owner too.
  14. maryam posted on 02/15/2013 07:52 PM
    it would be nice if the owner wanted to keep some of it ala noodle world on valley in alhambra. and probably a smart business move on the part of the owner too.
  15. JR posted on 02/15/2013 09:05 PM
    Wow....sad to hear. As for "racist", her comment is not that, yet it is factual. The clientelle of the area are not into Tiki...and the many Asian restaurants are not doing poorly despite their numbers. "Going the way of Noodle Planet?" no thanks. It's a Tiki-Pacific island themed dive trying to alter it. Let's face it, if Bob's Big Boy, IHOP, Pizza Hut, "Chris's", Norms, Brown Derby, Farrell's, Love's, Bavarian Inn, and H.Salt Fish n Chips can't make it in this valley....I suppose Bahooka's demise was on the wall anyway. I shall toast (literally) a Captain Cook's goat to you and hope to get one last visit in before Bahooka slips below to Davey Jones locker. Good luck with the Costco salad dressing.....I'd buy it.
  16. Connie posted on 02/15/2013 09:11 PM
    My heart just broke. This place reminded me of my dad. It was his favorite and we had many Friday night dinners here. Then my husband and I went on many,many dates here. I actually shed a tear. It's closing on my birthday. I guess I will have to go and celebrate one more time.
  17. Bligh posted on 02/15/2013 09:23 PM
    it's too bad so few people appreciate unique, historical places these days.
    this was quite a landmark, not to mention being recorded for posterity in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
    well, like so many other bulldozed landmarks in LA, we won't miss it until it's gone, and there's no going back.
    everything is BLAND and repetitive these days. yes, please, build more of the same. so we don't have to drive as far to get our fix of more generic "product."
    1. donna guzman posted on 02/16/2013 06:46 PM
      @Bligh So True!!
  18. Richard Dean posted on 02/15/2013 10:05 PM
    Need more Asian restaurants? If only there were a few around there in say Alhambra, Monterey Park, and yes even in Rosemead. If there are more Asian restaurants in any three adjoining cities in America I'd be surprised. C'mon.
    1. 714gg posted on 02/28/2013 04:19 PM
      @Richard Dean Try my area, garden grove. 3 cities garden grove, westminster, and santa ana. Garden grove and westminster have the two highest proportions of vietnames in the country and combine to form the largest vietnamese community outside of vietnam. Add garden grove's koreatown and the widespread Chinese community and we probably win :p
  19. Roz P posted on 02/15/2013 10:16 PM
    Who cares if they want asain just stay!!! Your food is sooo goood!!!Why the Asains are taking over i cant believe it!! Dont take the money they offered lol... been going there with my huge family for over 40 years!!! Say it isnt soo :(
  20. Charles Bennett posted on 02/15/2013 10:24 PM
    Lame. Now where am I going to get my midsummer birthday Hawaiian fix?
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