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by: Bob Carskadon

Tiki bar inspired by legendary Don the Beachcomber opens on Madeira Beach

The godfather of the tiki movement now has his own restaurant on Madeira Beach. Don the Beachcomber, a wildly-tiki restaurant and bar, has officially opened on the ground floor of the Cambria Hotel at 15015 Madeira Way.

Following in the footsteps of its namesake, Don the Beachcomber features a wide array of Polynesian-inspired fare, as well as the full menu of rum-filled tiki drinks one would expect – many served in coconut and tiki mugs. Specialty food items include offerings such as a pupu platter featuring hand-made crab Rangoon (it’s one of the best we’ve had), sticky rib skewers, signature wings, a variety of fried rice options, fresh grouper, and an array of gourmet burgers.

Tiki bar inspired by legendary Don the Beachcomber opens on Madeira Beach

We got our first taste of the cocktails last night, and they are true to the original tiki styles and tastes, more than living up to their legendary billing. Don the Beachcomber says the staff juices its citrus daily and features house-made syrups alongside quality spirits to “create a tropical cocktail menu fitting of the name Don the Beachcomber and its legacy.”

The full cocktail menu features many of the original cocktails that made “Donn Beach” so famous nearly a century ago, including the Zombie, Three Dots and A Dash, and many other tiki classics he is credited with inventing. And don’t worry – there are plenty of non-rum cocktails and liquors, as well as plenty of local beer on tap.

Don the Beachcomber celebrates 90 years of tiki.

For the birth of this restaurant and bar, it is Donn’s story that brought this new concept to life. 23 Restaurant Services, a locally-based hospitality group, actually purchased the rights to the Don the Beachcomber name last year, including the original recipes. This location on Madeira Beach is just the first of many they plan to open across Florida and the southeastern U.S., as they breathe a new life into the legend and culture behind the father of the tiki movement.

Bootlegger Donn Beach (born Ernest Gantt) opened his first 25-seat café in Hollywood in 1932, and it was there that he is credited with introducing the “Polynesian-pop” tiki culture to the United States, launching a movement that swept the country for decades to come. In his years running the restaurant that came to be named Don the Beachcomber, he is canonically said to have brought the tropical rum cocktail movement to the mainstream, inventing many of the drinks the style is still most famous for today.

Don the Beachcomber plans to operate a concept befitting its namesake. In fact, to do so, 23 Restaurants has assembled an advisory board with some of the most influential voices in tiki culture “to help bring Don the Beachcomber back to the forefront of the world of tiki.” Quoting Donn Beach himself, the restaurant and bar says, “if you can’t get to paradise, we’ll bring it to you.”


“Committed to creating an authentic tiki experience that feels timeless yet modern, 23 Restaurant Services looks to bring the refreshed Don the Beachcomber brand nationwide in the coming years,” they say, “introducing even more people to the signature cocktails and escapism of the tiki aesthetic.”

23 Restaurants is the same group behind local favorites Ford’s Garage, Tiki Docks, and Yeoman’s. Follow Don the Beachcomber for more. The restaurant is open Sunday-Wednesday from 11 am – 11 pm, and Thursday-Saturday from 11 am – 1 am.