Today mark's Luau Polynesian's last day of operation, tonight its last night. Luau is Karaoke Korrespondent Jeff Roman's favorite bar, and as this eulogy attests, he'll miss it like a deceased family dog. He'll see you all in Tangletown tonight.
Twelve years ago, three of my buddies got jobs as servers at a brand new place in a tucked-away neighborhood between Greenlake and Wallingford (now known as Tangletown) called The Luau Polynesian Lounge. They were hired by an awesome couple named Thomas and Jessica Price. It soon became our number one hangout spot. As time went by, two of my friends moved on but one stuck around. His name was Tony Boitano. He worked with a hall of fame crew of bartenders, and eventually became a bartender himself. This marked the beginning of the best years of my life.From that point on, I could pop in and belly up during Tony's shifts, and that time spent is what I lived for. Eventually I became close friends with the rest of the staff, and that's when it started to feel like family. Years went by and we spent most every New Year, Super Bowl, and Halloween there, and the comfort of knowing this place was around made my life complete. It made me appreciate friendship and community in a whole different way.
As time went on. some friends moved away and some got married but there was always the Luau. The new friends I met there became as dear to me as the ones I'd known since I was a kid.
In 2003, Thomas and Jess announced they would be selling the Luau to another owner, and Tony went to work at a different bar. We still hung out there, but it wasn't the same. It no longer felt like our bar, and the new owners did a horrible job managing the place. It was a dark and crazy time.
In 2005, as things were in complete disarray, Tony told me Thomas and Jess were reclaiming the Luau and that he would be their new business partner. It was the best news I had ever heard; everything seemed better than ever! They hired a great young staff and it felt like things would go on forever. It was heaven--having your best friend own your favorite bar is one of life's greatest blessings.
In 2007, after spending most of the year unemployed, I got a new job and a new attitude. Inspired by the beauty of a newly-hired waitress, I decided to go to the bar every single day in what would become known as "the streak." I spent 252 straight nights at the Luau. I made more new friends during that time than any other in my life, and we're still tight today.
Tough times caused patronage to decline a bit, but the bar retained a thirsty cadre of hard-core regulars. It never mattered to us who was there as long as we could hang out and be around each other and the incredible people that worked there. Instinctively, I struck up another streak that lasted 79 days. There was no real reason for this one except for the fact that I wanted to show everyone how much the bar meant to me.
Last Friday, it was announced the Luau would be no more after January 26. I'm not ready to say goodbye, but look forward to seeing everyone there one last time.