The Omni Hut is a real rarity in Tennessee and the South for that matter as well, you don't get many Polynesian/Tiki restaurants around these parts. It was built in 1960 by a retired fighter pilot named James F. Walls who took up cooking as a job - but it turned into a eventual hobby while he was stationed in Hawaii as a pilot before World War II. In the service, he trekked all over the world and developed quite a fascination with the culture and food of the lands that he traveled in.
When he retired from the service, Major Walls decided to start a restaurant in the Smyrna, Tennessee area. At first, the restaurant was named "Chinese Cuisine" but after feedback from his guests, he decided to concentrate on a Polynesian theme and changed the name to "The Omni Hut". And over fifty years later, it's still in business. Unfortunately, Major Walls passed away in March of this year but his staff is still doing him proud. They were so nice to us and made us feel really welcome. Let's take a look at the place!
We got there before the rest of our friends and were warmly greeted by the late Major Walls' daughter, Polly who was the hostess. She was so sweet and friendly and made us feel right at home. She happily let me walk around and take photos of everything and as some of you know, some businesses get grumpy about that sort of thing. You could tell that she was proud of the place, as she should be.
This is the other dining room. The walls had faux flowers inset behind glass and were beautiful. When you're inside of the Omni Hut, it is so easy to convince yourself that you're not in Tennessee anymore. I kinda didn't want to leave.
Of course, there were fancy drinks. The Omni Hut is alcohol free but they let you bring your own with no corking fee. The Hawaiian Tea is a great mixer for your drink of choice.
I didn't get a good shot of the flaming dishes so I found this one online. The dishes are pretty heavy on grilled meats but even vegetarians like the Mister and myself found some good options. In the interest of full disclosure, I got the vegetable chow mien which was like a fail from a daring 50's cookbook - but everything else that I had was good. The Mister got veggie kabobs and the servers deliver freshly baked loaves of Hawaiian bread to the table. They make their salad dressings and Teriyaki sauce from scratch. Yummy. They even have a flaming chocolate dessert but thanks to the huge portions, we were too stuffed to approach.
By the time that we left, we were all giddy - so they must be doing something right there at the Omni Hut.
If you're ever in the Smyrna, Tennessee area, definitely check out the Omni Hut. Make sure to call for a reservation as they're packed on some nights. We guarantee that you'll have a blast!
Until next time,
x's and o's,
Hi. I love your blog. I've been wanting to take my husband to Nashville for some time so I was wondering if you had any more insider's places to go. I haven't been there since I took my Girl Scout troop to the Opryland amusement park. Susan
Thanks! Drop me a line through the "Contact Me" button on the right hand side of the blog and tell me what you and your husband like to do - what you're into. Maybe I can come up with some ideas!
This place looks great! It reminds me of a place out here in CA called Bahooka - it has that time-warp quality about it. I'm also keen on your recommendations for travelers to Nashville (or anyplace in the south)!
I just discovered some pictures of the Omni Hut online and have become obsessed. Thanks for all the great pictures! We have quite a few tiki wonders in California and it is awesome to see how consistent they are across the country; Oceanic Arts (Whittier, CA) seems to supply every tiki restaurant with amazing light fixtures! I recognize the seahorse one from some of our local tiki travels! ALOHA!
Fun! I have GOT to get to Nashville one of these days. My husband's family is from Knoxville, so I've spent a lot of time at that end of Tennessee, but not the other end! Oh by the way, I gave you a shout out on my blog the other day: http://stacyverb.typepad.com/stacyverb/2012/05/sharing-the-blog-love.html :)
It looks so awesome. Like stepping into the past. :) I'm glad there were some veg options for you and lol at "50s cookbook fail." Seems like a magical evening! Now I wanna go there.
wwwwhhhaaaaaaaat???? how have i never heard of this place? two nights ago i was searching trying to see if there were any tiki places nearby and this didnt come up at all! i've got to get out there, stat!
That place looks amazing! Seahorse light, black lights, Hawaiian lessons, food on fire, what more could a gal want? I'll definietly keep the Omni Hut in mind when I'm planning The Mother Of All Road Trips, which will swing through Graceland, natch.
It looks like such a cool place! Your blog is so nice
Oh.My.God!!!! This place looks completely amazing!!! I MUST go here the next time we are in town!!!!
ps- you look smashing girl!
amazing! i wish it were closer to memphis, or we would go on our honeymoon in july!!!
OH! I've always wanted to go to a place like that! Can I come visit??
I went there for the first time recently too, and thought, "Whoa, if K doesn't know about this place . . ." And the food is pretty great, right? I have a fantasy about forming an Omni Hut house band - a ukulele quartet that does an all Tin Pan Alley goes Hawaiian repertoire.
WHOAH,this place fully looks like something from 1960's Disneyland,they totally had a Polynesian area back in the day,with that who Tiki culture deal. This is AWESOME!
And hello...the black light room?? Fantastic
Oh,that last pic,the gal in white on the right...long lost sister??
that's it. i'm inviting myself to Nashville to come visit you. I also must visit this place! :D GAH! SO.AWESOME.
Oh wow, this place looks so great! I wish there was somewhere like this near us...
be still, my kitshy lil' haert! that place seems incredible! please tell me they played herb alpert records while you ate?
I'm from Nashville, and I never knew this place existed! Now I really want to go. . .
Ooh, I'm just catching up!!! It was SO fabulous to see you guys -- and for sharing our "virgin" Omni Hut adventure! I say next time we go, let's stop at Sonic before AND after...
Love you, dear heart. xoxo
It was so great to finally meet you and I loved our dinner! But you didn't mention the google-eye gold fish that were freaking us all out ;) Much love, Carrie
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