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Big-T & the Bada-Bings

Shake Your Wicky, Wacky, Woo!
by Leslie Rosenberg

It’s a sweltering summer day in Manhattan. The sweat is dripping down your neck as you pound the sidewalk between East Village thrift stores and vintage clothing retailers, looking for the perfect gabardine shirt or Lucite purse. Finally, you can’t take it anymore. You trudge a few blocks westward to Bowery, the blare of cab horns and fumes of city busses enveloping your senses. But there it is, near the corner of East Fourth Street, an oasis in the midst of the big city turmoil…

As you step inside Marion’s Continental Restaurant & Lounge, you are swept away to a Polynesian paradise. Colorful paper lanterns dangle from the ceiling, tropical flowers adorn the tables, the sounds of Juan Esquivel and Martin Denny fill the air, and the waitstaff serves up frosty tiki-godhead mugs of delicious frozen daquiris and mai tais.

This is the Kahiki Lounge, an annual salute to all things Polynesian, which launches at Marion’s on July 12 this year. Although the usual decor at Marion’s can best be described as eclectic retro—50s lamps hang from the ceiling and oil paintings of John Kennedy and watery-eyed cocker spaniels adorn the walls—for one month each summer, the space is transformed into an island paradise.

The Kahiki Lounge is modeled after the restaurant of the same name in Columbus, Ohio, explain owners Michael Howett and Richard Bach. The original, built at a cost of more than a million dollars, features an indoor tropical rain forest and is covered wall to wall in tiki paraphernalia. Marion’s manages to scale things down with thatched huts and colored lighting, but the effect is still nothing short of enchanting.

In addition to the Hawaiian kitsch atmosphere and special tropical drink and dinner menu, the Kahiki Lounge also features fabulous entertainment. On Tuesday nights, Casey MacGill, star of the Broadway show Swing!, regails the clientele with his vocal stylings and the sweet strumming of his ukelele. He appears alongside DJ Mr. Gerard, who spins everything from Hawaii 5-0 to Elvis. Then on Wednesdays, it’s the World Famous Pontani Sisters, who perform tropical dance numbers from the Volcanic Islands. (Check them out at These girls but the bump in burlesque!) And on Thursdays, authentic Hawaiian hula dancers from Radio Hula grace the dining room with romantic sounds of the South Pacific.

Even if you miss this year’s Kahiki Lounge, Marion’s offers a number of themed events year-round, including the Sunday Fashion Brunches featuring clothing from up-and-coming designers like Michael Sinn, Blue Bag, Living Doll, Kelly Christy, Buffalo Chips, and Michelle Korn. No matter what time of year you’re visiting, make sure to put Marion’s in your Palm Pilot before your next trip to the Big Apple.

Marion’s Continental Restaurant & Lounge is located at 354 Bowery, NYC; Ph. 212.475.7621.

Behind in your reading?
Check out past ATOMIC features.

Dear Dottie
1999 Article List
2000 Article List
2001 Article List
2002 Article List
2003 Article List
2004 Article List
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