Bar None: RIP Mad Men koa bar at Waikiki's Royal Hawaiian Hotel
RIP, the Mad Men koa bar at which you could have ordered a drink.
When Matthew Weiner brought his Don Draper character to Waikiki to film Mad Men’s sixth season premiere at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, it wasn’t just the ladies who got all hot and bothered. The hotel’s director of sales and marketing, Jim Palank, says the real scene stealer (for the hotel anyway) was a prop, the wooden wet bar built and installed by the show’s prop team on the Coconut Lanai.
“It was a magnificent bar,” says Palank, built from koa especially for one breakout scene, the moment Draper meets a drunken, doomed soldier headed to Vietnam.
The hotel loved everything about it—the design, the location, the craftsmanship—so much, they offered to buy it from AMC and leave it as a bar in that very spot forevermore.
AMC offered to let them have it for close to $50,000. Palank says, “We went back and forth with the negotiation, and we had our price. I was trying to get in touch with Lions Gate,” to tell them they had a deal, but it was post-production. Crews were in full swing, uninstalling the set.
“I went to the Coconut Lanai, where they created this magnificent bar and, lo and behold, they had already sawed it in half and were carting it onto a Matson container. I almost cried. Then I had to get the guts to call my general manager,” he says with a bittersweet laugh.
Palank says that Lionsgate told him they’re planning to use the bar “another 20 times in various shows.” But that doesn’t soften the loss any. Whereas Weiner pays attention to detail, the Hollywood machine turns a cold shoulder to sentimentality.