The bamboo trim, surfboards and paintings of palm trees at sunset have disappeared, replaced by maps and flags of Ireland and classic Guinness posters.
“It’s like it never happened,” said Corvallis restauranteur Cloud Davidson, with a chuckle.
In this case, "it" is the Tiki bar concept that led to accusations of cultural appropriation. The Tiki bar is gone, and Cloud & Kelly’s Public House, an Irish pub, is reopening at the same space at 126 S.W. First St. on Wednesday.
“This whole thing was humbling. I learned way too many lessons,” Davidson said.
And in the middle of the controversy, he also realized how much he loved Cloud & Kelly’s and what a strong following it had.
“It’s kind of like coming home. It feels right,” Davidson said inside the bar Monday night, as decorations were being changed. Davidson had the Irish-themed pictures, sports jerseys and more stored in his garage.
In June, Davidson closed Cloud & Kelly’s and started Hapuna Kahuna Tiki Bar & Kitchen, saying that the rising cost of heavy creams and other Irish food products were the main factor in the switch.
Business initially was brisk, but the establishment almost immediately received complaints about its cartoonish Tiki decorations, the Hawaiian name, the plastic leis handed out to customers and the restaurant’s lack of traditional “lunch plate” fare.
Davidson quickly apologized, tried to address the issues, such as by removing Tiki iconography, and he rebranded the space as the Salty Dog Tiki Bar & Kitchen.
“Once the controversy hit, overnight, the whole thing imploded. I didn’t know what to do,” Davidson said. Toning the Tiki bar theme down didn’t persuade customers to return.
“It doesn’t matter what or how or why about the Tiki thing. It’s just not working,” Davidson said.
Saturday night was the last night of the Salty Dog.
The mistake was costly. “So much money,” Davidson said.
He’ll continue to work on the food cost issues at Cloud & Kelly’s, but he said that in trying to solve that problem, he created a mountain of problems.
Still, Davidson has a soft spot for tropical drinks and Pan-Asian cuisine, so certain cocktails and dishes might appear on menus at his establishments again.