Industry Weekly

[Architect]

How Branden Powers creates nonstop fun at Golden Tiki

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“It’s kind of like rock ‘n’ roll fantasy camp.”
Photo: Mona Shield Payne

When you first step into the Golden Tiki, it’s easy to imagine you’ve just boarded a ride at Disneyland. With clamshell water fountains, a star-covered ceiling, a talking animatronic skeleton and exotica-themed music, it’s like a pirate playground for adults.

“So many things contribute to a tiki bar; I just didn’t want to have 4,000 square feet of only tiki,” says managing partner and thematic mastermind Branden Powers. “People come here, and they see new things all the time. I’m constantly adding new stuff.”

Powers grew up in the California punk scene before discovering electronic music in the late ’80s. From there, he launched the Global Underworld Network, the group behind San Diego’s legendary Narnia raves, before consulting for record companies and nightlife venues. He even owned an ’80s-themed yogurt shop. Now, his big hit is the Golden Tiki in Chinatown. The year-old bar is such a success, Powers already has plans to expand, by adding a full kitchen, a stage and, of course, lots more pirate- and tiki-themed memorabilia.

In the meantime, Powers has some unique offerings in store, from just-launched pu pu platters to a new drink menu in October. The latter will feature shareable libations like the McLovin—rum, crème de Cassis, pineapple and lime juices and gomme syrup, served in a whole pineapple.

Tapping into his rock ’n’ roll roots, he’s had Clem Burke of Blondie, Marky Ramone of the Ramones and Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys spin vinyl at his bar. But his “secret weapon,” he says, is famed Vegas DJ Rex Dart, spinning tunes every weekend. “It’s kind of like rock ‘n’ roll fantasy camp for me,” Powers says. “We’ve established ourselves as a must-see tourist attraction of weirdness.” The Golden Tiki, 3939 Spring Mountain Road, 702-222-3196; 24/7.

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Leslie Ventura is a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly and Industry Weekly. She’s picked the brains of rock stars ...

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