He’s somewhere in tiki time.

“Remember that old movie ‘Somewhere in Time’?”

George didn’t have to say another word. We both exclaimed next – “the penny!” and our flash of empathic resonance was complete.

For those that might not remember or have seen the film, it’s a story about a man who falls in love with a woman from the past, so much so, that he attempts to time travel back to her. He creates an environment in the room around him that is completely authentic to the time period in which she lived. He is eventually successful, transports himself into her time, they fall in love, and all seems well. Well until he finds a penny in his pocket with a date of 1979 on it. Immediately, the time-travel spell is broken, and his love screams in agony as he is whisked away from her.

What does this film have to do with a tiki bar? George is that man. He – like many of us – has created an immersive and authentic environment in a room that transports you to another place and time. George fell in love with the romantic period of a past paradise. But unlike many, George did not forget about the pennies in his space that might rip the illusion away. For some tiki people, it’s natural light in a tiki bar, for others it’s a misplaced choice of music. For some, it may be carvings or art that were not authentic to the tiki period of the 40s – 60s, and for others, it’s seeing all the wires for the lights. Whatever the penny might be, it’s important to consider how to rid it from your pocket.

George understands that challenge well at the Nui Keoki’s Enchanted Grotto, his home bar in Jacksonville, Florida. I felt as if I’d landed at a trader’s outpost when I entered George’s Grotto. His getaway is filled with vintage memorabilia, tikis, carvings, art, and includes touches of nautical whimsy and creature danger. After hearing some stories about thoughtful gifts that have been traded back and forth with Scott, his closest tiki friend, I was even more convinced that Nui Keoki’s Enchanted Grotto embodies a true trader spirit. When Scott had a special event coming up, George reached out to a local artist to have custom Peanuts-style drawing made of Scott and his family. When George had a special day coming up, Scott found an artist who recreated an advertisement from The Garden of Tiki, a vintage, local restaurant that was a favorite for George. In fact, George got a little emotional as he talked about their friendship and the wonderful gifts traded over the past years. It was clear to me that George and Scott’s passion for tiki has cultivated a lasting bond.

I loved getting lost in time at Nui Keoki’s Enchanted Grotto. There wasn’t a penny in sight. And, just like that famous line from Somewhere in Time, the Grotto is already calling … “Come back to me.”

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