There be pirates of the roundtable.

Wonderful ideas often take shape at small tables – especially when there’s rum.

When you visit Chiselslinger and Sweetbeak’s Rancho Kahiki Tiki Bar, you’ll be overwhelmed by the layers of art, carvings, and nautical items. Every tiki lamp was salvaged from the Kahiki. Half of the large tiki carvings once lived at the Kahiki. The other half are ones carved by Jim, earning him the name – Chiselslinger. You’ll likely talk to Mithu, a 43-year old Amazon parrot who resides at the Rancho. Elise (aka Sweetbeak) is an experienced aviary tech. Caring for exotic birds is her profession. When Elise met Jim, he had one tiki mug. After twenty years together of collecting, visits to the Kahiki, carving tikis, and crafting plaster-cast necklaces that would sell out at meet-ups, the Rancho Kahiki is now a tiki home bar to be envied.

With all the amazing art and tiki artifacts to take in, you might just miss one of the most important items in the room – a simple wooden, round table. Why would a table stand out against historical lamps, beautiful carvings, and layers of tiki?

That table is the first conclave of the Fraternal Order of Moai.

Almost seventeen years ago, Jim received a message from a guy named Matt on Tiki Central. Both men had recently posted about wanting to meet other Columbus Kahiki fans. Matt figured there could be a dozen or so die-hard tiki fans out there that might want to get together. On a lark, Matt joked that they should form a club and call it the Fraternal Order of Moai. The name would serve as an allusion to the two large moai that stood outside the entrance as well as the grand moai-esque fireplace that graced the inside of the Kahiki. Could they turn a hobby into a spooky secret order? Jim was amused. Matt was a self-proclaimed “shaggy-haired beachbum wannabe” trapped in Ohio with high aspirations of creating magical cocktails. Jim was a 6-foot-2 blonde surfer-looking cat who played guitar and carved tikis. The two laughed off the idea and had another drink.

Apparently, the lark was more serious than either had thought. Once Jim, Elise, and Matt began sitting down together for drinks at that round table, they began to hammer out the structure for a pirate democracy, and crafted mythology and rituals for this new society. Matt launched a new online forum on New Years Day of 2005, bringing in his good friend Joel to help make the idea a reality. They then began reaching out to all of the tikiphiles, rockabilly scene folks, swing dance kids, and car club members they knew to invite them to join. The Fraternal Order of Moai began to take flight.

In the next few years, there would be Hot Rod Hula Hops and backyard luaus. Elise, a consummate hostess who always dressed to the nines in vintage fashion, would provide reason and practicality to balance Jim and Matt’s enthusiasm and craziness. Elise’s visual sensibilities for design and her flair for accuracy would set an authentic tone that deeply resonated with the tiki crowd. The Rancho Kahiki was established in their basement, and it became the metaphysical conclave for Jim, Elise, Matt, Joel, and many more.

Otto and Baby Doe would visit. King Kukulele would sleep on the floor in the spare room. Many a fellow Moai would find sanctuary here with a well-crafted cocktail.

Fast forward to today, the Fraternal Order of Moai (FOM) is now a primary connecting organization for tiki folks. With fourteen chapters across the United States and hundreds in membership as fellow Moai, FOM brings tikiphiles together to have “fun with a purpose.” Each year, FOM raises significant funds through its foundation to fund archaeological research, provide students who live on Rapa Nui with college scholarships, and more.

If you ever get the wonderful opportunity to visit Elise and Jim at the Rancho Kahiki, take your time, soak in the amazing carvings and historical artifacts, ooh and aah at the layers of tiki, feel the metaphysical vibe, and enjoy a tasty cocktail. But, above all else, pause and sit for a moment at the small, wooden table.

It might just inspire you to create a pirate democracy.

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