Jacob Hadjigeorgis, the man behind Upper West Side’s wildly popular southern comfort food restaurant Jacob’s Pickles, is opening a tiki bar just a few doors down from his hit establishment. Tiki Chick, at 517 Amsterdam Avenue near West 85th Street, is the latest effort in Hadjigeorgis’s gradually expanding Upper West Side culinary empire.
The idea for Tiki Chick came about through experiments with cocktails at Maison Pickle and Jacob’s Pickles, Hadjigeorgis tells Eater. Bartenders seemed to show an affinity for making tiki bar-style drinks, and customers were into it as well, Hadjigeorgis says.
The drinks here are a mix of traditional tiki bar creations like the mai tai and the Singapore sling. They’re served alongside original creations like the fish face, a drink made with cachaça (a spirit made from fermented sugarcane juice), guava juice, coffee, lemon, and absinthe; and the rum and cola’d fashioned, a drink made with two kinds of rum, homemade cola syrup, and bitters. Michael Walters is the lead bartender and working in conjunction with beverage director Selina Ardan.
The food menu is small but features Jacob’s Pickles favorites like the fried chicken sandwich, albeit with a few twists like the addition of burnt sugar and honey. Another fried chicken sandwich comes with spam and pineapple, and there’s also a breakfast sandwich with spam, pineapple, egg, and cheese. Glenroy Brown, the chef over at Maison Pickle and fast-casual Lucky Pickle Dumpling Co., is also at the helm here.
The bar goes for a tropical vibe with a red leather bench, bamboo pole accents, a plant-filled roof with multi-colored exposed bulbs hanging from the ceiling, and wallpaper with women dressed in leis and hula skirts.
It was a bit of rough start for Hadjigeorgis’s latest venture: The original sign posted outside the bar of a topless woman in a hula skirt garnered some pushback from local residents with one attendee at a local community board meeting saying it was “culturally insensitive,” due to the nudity, according to the West Side Rag.
The restaurant has since changed the sign and added a lei to the woman, but Hadjigeorgis claims the pushback only came from a small group of people on the community board and that for the most part they’ve only received positive feedback from neighbors, a sentiment that’s confirmed by a raft of comments on the most recent on Tiki Chick from neighborhood blog West Side Rag.
Aside from Jacob’s Pickles, Hadjigeorgis and his restaurant company Pickle Hospitality run fast-casual dumpling spot Lucky Pickle on the same street, as well as Maison Pickle, a cocktail and French Dip sandwich restaurant located a block away on Broadway.
Jacob’s Pickle — the business that started it all for Hadjigeorgis — turned eight in December. Despite being shuttered for six months following a fire in 2017, the restaurant has remained a favorite with Upper Westsiders, and continues to be one of the top brunch destinations in the city.
Tiki Chick opens December 31 at 7 p.m. It will be open Monday to Thursday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., Friday from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 a.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.