Coco's Coffee House, Hawaii 1980s
Coco’s Coffee House, which closed in 1986, was named Hawaii’s most beautiful coffee house for its whimsical architecture created by George J Wimberley. According to writer Curt Sanburn, it was ‘built with lots of lava rock and an almost cartoonish South-Seas flair’and set the tone for Waikiki. Previously, the site had been occupied by Kau Kau Korner in the 1950s in a building that had a ‘fantastical arrow-shaped, concrete-slab roof.’
Coco’s was run by Spencecliff Restaurants, the company owned by brothers Spence and Clifton Weaver. Starting in 1939 with the wonderfully-named Swanky Franky’s Hot Dog Stand, the brothers operated more than 50 restaurants in the ensuing decades including Tahitian Lanai, Trader Vic’s , Ranch House and South Seas and Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.
The imaginative and flamboyant Spence had an unwavering instinct for what the public wanted from restaurants and Clifton took care of the business side. This delightful menu cover, from the 1980s, perfectly captured the spirit of having fun in Hawaii with a little boy wearing swimming trunks and a traditional woven Laulala hat holding a giant coffee cup, with Coco’s in the background.
Wimberley, born in Washington State, came to Hawaii in 1940 to do naval work at Pearl Harbor.
Among the other creations his firm Wimberley Allison Tong& Goo built was a Don The Beachcomber restaurant with authentic thatched roofs, a Sheraton Mauri that clung to the side of an outcrop at Kaanapali Beach and the Hotel Bora Bora built on stilts in Tahiti.
After Coco’s closed, the Hard Rock Café took over the site at the gateway to Waikiki.
Courtesy Private Collection.
Each order includes a print of the interior menu.