In the biggest tiki news since the demise of Trader Vic's, Dallas is in line to get its own dedicated tiki lounge, from a couple that are the royalty of tiki culture in town.
Called Swizzle, it's a new bar-in-the-making coming to Lower Greenville from husband-and-wife Marty Reyes and Jen Ann Tonic, who've built a tiki buzz via a series of Polynesian-style pop-ups called Swizzle Luau Lounge, serving mai tais and other tropical treasures.
The couple has taken possession of the space at 1802 Greenville Ave., most recently occupied by the short-lived Rocko's Pizza, where they'll install their inimitable tiki flair.
Jen says they're a ways off and that details are slim, but that they'll be recreating the same kitschy vibe and craft cocktails found in their popular pop-ups.
"We just signed the lease on Thursday and are working quickly to get everything moving," Jen says. "We're still waiting on our build-out, and are a few months away from anything big happening — that's the timeline."
The Reyeses are a colorful pair with a zest for life and connections to Dallas' coolest subcultures, including the worlds of rockabilly, vintage, Day of the Dead, State Fair of Texas, burlesque, art, flea markets, and fashion.
They have extensive hospitality experience at establishments such as Industry Alley Bar, Cibo Divino, and the Green Door Public House.
But more to the point, they've been longtime tiki aficionados, well before tiki began to resurface as a trend. They organized the 2019 rendition of Dallas Tiki Week in June, taking the reins from bartender/founder Brian McCullough, and carrying off a successful event featuring a crew of tiki enthusiasts and tiki-friendly bars, such as Gung Ho; Sand Bar; Circo; Armoury D.E.; The Gallery; Ruins; and 4 Kahunas, DFW's most famous tiki bar to date.
Jen is a California native who moved to Dallas in 2011. She's nursed an obsession with cocktail culture since adolescence, collecting barware, bar tools, cocktail books, and vintage spirit ads.
Her grandfather lived in Hawaii for a large portion of his life; he was on Oahu during Pearl Harbor. Her mother was a hula dancer and raised Jen on Hawaiian music, Italian music, Elvis, and Frank Sinatra.
Marty is a native Texan, who's been in the service industry for over 25 years, including Dick’s Last Resort and Bowlounge.
He's an avid reader of cocktail books and tiki books, and has a mean collection of Hawaiian shirts and tiki necklaces. He'll be the lead cocktail creator at Swizzle.
"Swizzle would not be where it is today if he didn’t wake up early every day and go to bed late everyday, researching," Jen says.
"His passion for cocktails and the eagerness to make this dream come true mixed with my social media persistence, obsession for tiki, and pretty packaging of his ideas has really turned this dream into a reality," she says.
They debuted the Swizzle Luau Lounge pop-up in May 2016. They've hosted a big Tiki Flea every spring and winter, as well as many luaus and exotica music events. They also love to visit tiki bars across the country.
Tiki has been trending in Dallas bars for about five years, with an increasing array of rum drinks and tiki-themed nights and events. The area got its first dedicated tiki bar in 2018 when 4 Kahunas Tiki Lounge opened in Arlington.
Meanwhile, another tiki bar is set to open in Fort Worth: Tarantula Tiki Lounge is wrapping up construction and will open later in 2019 in Near Southside, from the owners of The Boiled Owl Tavern. That makes three tiki bars, and three makes a trend.