The Full Case for Saving the Tonga Room

Photo: Courtesy of Chris Verplanck

As you know, we’re big proponents of preserving the Tonga Room as a historical landmark. Today, the Chronicle’s John King questioned the validity of that move, quoting extensively from a report filed with the state by architect Chris VerPlanck, arguing for the strange and elaborate tiki bar’s preservation. “It is the most intact, the largest, and the most ambitious tiki bar ever created in San Francisco,” VerPlanck told us on the phone today. “There are other examples in California that I’m familiar with, but to my knowledge there aren’t any others that have as ambitious an architectural program and are as intact.”

VerPlanck said the biggest obstacle his firm faces is the fact that, “the general man on the street doesn’t necessarily think that a bar, even a tiki bar, is worth acknowledging as a historical resource.” He also noted that the laws governing historical preservation are being rewritten right now, so “the jury is still out as to whether an interior space can even be designated.” We’re rooting for the Tonga to be saved, not just because it’s the coolest looking bar in the city, but because there’s no other place to drink a scorpion bowl while indulging in a classic 1960s-era Polynesian buffet. Egg rolls and cream sauce anyone?

The Case for Preserving the Tonga Room as a Historical Resource [PDF via Chris VerPlanck]

Previously: Saving the Tonga Is All Talk So Far [Grub Street SF]

The Full Case for Saving the Tonga Room