My two-month-old obsession with long-gone-but-sorta-still-there Jackson Heights tiki restaurant The Dragon Seed has been given a very happy ending. Back in February, I posted something about the still-warmly-remembered place at 86th Street on 37th Avenue in Queens, a tropical wonderland owned by Charles Bow and favored by Louis Armstong. Then, in March, I visited the space, which is now a Columbian restaurant, but retains much of the original decor, including the elaborate fountain at the entrance, and two tiki figures out front.
Owner George Bow, still alive and well, contacted me after that post, saying "For more interesting photos of the Dragon Seed Restaurant, visit George Bow on Facebook. I owned and ran the 86th street Restaurant since the 1960's. My family opened that Restaurant in 1949." Holy pu pu platter! I went directly to the site, and what a treason trove of images.
Here's the Dragon Seed, close to the time it opened, I'm guessing, given the classy awning and the absence of the tiki gods that came later. I think that's George Bow's father.
Dragon Seed was legit and famous enough to merit a picture postcard, which shows what the main dining room looked like. Much more brightly lit than in it today. I believe this was the original layout, with the thatch-roofed booths coming later. And the frontage seems quite different in this image. Notable, the place's name is in neon up top. Of course, maybe it always was; the top photo is cut off at top.
Here's George at the bar. He smiles in every photo. The bar is still there and recognizable. I spy Drambuie, Old Grand Dad, Chivas Regal, Kahlua...
Here's a page from the Dragon Seed cocktail menu. Scorpion's Bite, Hawaiian Daiquiri, Aloha Orgy ("for four or more happy people"), Love Potion, Tropical Madness Polu Lai, Luau Mea Huna ("Secret Nectar of the gods").
Here's the Dragon Seed matchbook.
Here's George another facade later. Note the tiki figures' appearance. Nice frock.
George and friends just inside the entrance.