In case you haven't heard, one of Tiki-dom's most venerable institutions is set to close. Bahooka Family Restaurant in Rosemead is scheduled to shut its doors on March 10. It's a great old place, opened in 1967, dimly lit except for all of the fish tanks and fabulously kitschy Tiki- and Polynesian-themed decorations fixed all over the walls and ceilings.
I went there Sunday to pay the grand dame tribute with a group of friends, including one whose mother once worked at both the Bahooka in Rosemead as well as the old location in West Covina. We showed up a half-hour before the place opened, and already there was a line forming to get in. Still, we didn't have to wait too long for a table. There was a set-up by the entrance, where I was told the restaurant is slowly selling off knicknacks and decorations (I was told major items would be sold at auction).
If you haven't yet been, I'd urge your to check it out, and maybe pick up a decoration keepsake. It may not be known for the food, but the drinks are classic and the atmosphere is kitsch at its finest. And don't forget to say hello to Rufus, the 36-year-old paco (a South American predatory fish) and perhaps Bahooka's most famous full-time resident, profiled by The Times back in 2000.
Mahalo, Bahooka! Your fans will miss you.
4501 N. Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead, (626) 285-1241 or (626) 285-7514, www.bahooka.com.