The Tahitian Room

A sketch of The Tahitian Room from 1960.

This article was originally written by Martin Lindsay on Classic San Diego

The Tahitian Room (1960-1970) was the U.S. Grant Hotel’s remodeled Rendezvous Room Lounge.

For a brief period in San Diego, Al Goodman was the favorite ‘wunderkind’ designer about town, receiving commissions from many hoteliers and restaurateurs. He did so many projects for them, you could almost say he was the in-house designer for C. Arnholt Smith and the Alessio Corporation. Goodman was a television set designer in Los Angeles (Mickey Rooney Show, Rosemary Clooney Show, Crossroads) for a decade before setting up shop San Diego. Today he’s probably best known for his work on Space Patrol (1950-1955) – he designed the Terra V, Mark 2 spaceship.

His San Diego firm Al Goodman & Associates, focused on architecture, planning and design and was responsible (in whole or in part) for the Shelter Island Inn(with architect Richard George Wheeler), Burnett’s Furniture, the Victorian remodel of Hotel del Coronado, Kona Kai Club remodel, U.S. Grant GrillYale Kahn’s Midway Chuck Wagon and The Roaring 20s, among others.

Goodman had a way with olde-timey, cathouse chic. At one point, he was even signed to design Mister A’s restaurant for John Alessio. That project ultimately went to Walter Broderick and Sarah Chase.

As part of a $1.5 million project at the U.S. Grant Hotel, their tired-old Rendezvous Room Lounge in the bacl of the building was transformed into The Tahitian Room, replete with ‘authentic’ Polynesian furnishings, a large Gaugin reproduction, and wooden ‘South Seas’ sculptures by San Diego artist Jim Casey. He also did work for Disneyland, Pacific Ocean Park and Aloha Jhoe’s in Palm Springs. The remodel was designed to “catch the romantic ones in the 5 o’clock crowd.”

“Exotic drinks, finger food, Oriental waitresses, and all that stuff…” reported newspaperman Frank Rhoades.

The Tahitian Room officially opened Monday, 8 Feb 1960, and for years served lunch, dinner, snacks and cocktails (with entertainment). It was closed along with The Rendezvous cafe in 1970, when the U.S. Grant’s northern annex building was torn down and replaced with a larger parking structure which still stands in its place.