Don the Beachcomber


Coming soon!

The most definitive and deeply researched book about the life of Don the Beachcomber. With hundreds of never-before-seen images from Donn’s personal archive, and revalations about his rise from a small town in Texas to legendary status, it is a true American tale. It will also have his recipes in one volume for the first time.

Expected ship date spring 2025.

Who is Donn?

Donn Beach was the founding father of tiki style, opening the world’s first faux Polynesian themed bar. Not only did he invent the Tiki bar and Tiki cocktails, he delivered escapism when the country needed it most. From his small town Texas roots as Ernest Gantt he traveled around the world twice in his early 20s. He took all he saw, tasted, and experienced and with his new Hollywood and mob connections, he opened the first tiki bar in Los Angeles. He partnered with a smart blonde, married her, expanded the business, and then lost it to forces beyond his control. Escaping to a stint in Europe in WWII, he returned to plant a Tiki flag in Waikiki, where his Polynesian-Pop style would influence the islands for decades.

While you’re waiting…

This book is the author’s first history of Donn Beach and Don the Beachcomber restaurants as seen through the lens of the world’s greatest Tiki palace, The Mai-Kai. Through first-hand stories and more than 400 images, this book documents the history, allure, and enduring legacy of the mid-twentieth-century Tiki era. It is the story of how it’s iconic elements came to exist, and the men and women who shaped it. Learn more about this book at

We worked with Surf Monkey Films as associate producer and story editor on their recenty released documentary about Donn.

From the Blog

A deep dive into the history of Donn Beach, Don the Beachcomber restaurants, and all things related to that story. Never-before-seen items from Donn’s personal archives.


The Work

Writing Tiki history books is a labor of love. Every trip to dig through a photo album or scrap book can cost thousands of dollars. Buying images on eBay, etc. is money spent for something that may never be used, but you have to get it or it’s lost. I’m doing it when and how I can.

The history is slipping away. Friends and associates of Donn Beach are still out there. Those who lived it are passing from this earth and taking the incredible stories with them. Their photo albums are tossed. The time is now.