No, you may not visit Kon Tiki.

Sunday afternoons when she was a young girl, Debbie’s grandparents would often take her to the Islands, a Polynesian Pop restaurant in Phoenix. She remembers the experience fondly. But, when her family drove past the Kon Tiki (the Phoenix location long gone now), her parents told her it was a bar – and she was not allowed to go.

Debbie finally got her chance in high school. Her band director announced that her jazz band would play poolside at Kon Tiki. Here she was, in the very place she was not supposed to go.

Creating exotic food and escapes has been a lifelong passion for Debbie. Her first job was working at a five star resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. The original Mr. Marriott would visit the location and tell Debbie – “you remind me of my granddaughter.” Debbie later became a talented chef. She even published her own cookbook. And when I visited to talk to her about the Enchanted Tiki Trailer, she served me the most amazing tuna poke nachos. I believe I even sweet-talked her into sharing the recipe.

Debbie and her husband Tom have completely restored a 1960 Kencraft Trailer with a tiki interior theme. The Enchanted Tiki Trailer has beautiful bentwood interiors, vintage checkered linoleum tile and surfaces, tiki mugs, and tropical prints to tie it all together. The most challenging aspect of the restoration was the installation of the curved wood walls. How could they install them without cracking? And, given that this was special ordered wood, they wanted to get it right the first time. Close to a decade ago, there were no videos to help; but through trial and error, they succeeded a creating a beautiful space. Debbie’s advice? If you don’t succeed, try Plan B.

Debbie and Tom’s love for tiki extends far beyond the cocktails. In fact, neither of them now drink alcohol, and Debbie is soon to celebrate one year of sobriety. That hasn’t stopped their obsession, though. When they finished the tiki trailer, they used left over materials to build an interior tiki bar in the dining room of the house. The lounge is complete with sentimental items from her parents, a vintage Packard-Bell LP/stereo cabinet, an beautiful cat TV lamp, and an amazing collection of mugs.

Isn’t it true? Kids always end up doing exactly what you told them not to do.

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