I've Heard...From Ed Rudisell!

Link: https://www.facebook.com/edrudisell

In our never-ending search for all the Tiki news that fits (“If it fits – we’ll print it!”), we reached out to another one of today’s Tiki Torch Bearers (TTBs) – someone who is a driving force in bringing more and more of the Tiki lifestyle to the hungry masses: Ed Rudisell! Ed has been in the food and beverage industry for many, many years and is well known among Indiana Tiki-philes. Ed has some great and exciting news to send out in his interview below, so take a few minutes and meet another TTB who is creating the vibe we all enjoy so much!.

Please give our readers a quick background on yourself.
(ER):I'm a restaurateur in Indianapolis. I've been in the industry my whole working life, but didn't really take it seriously as a career choice until I was nearly 30. My wife and I opened a Thai restaurant in the Fountain Square neighborhood in Indianapolis in the Fall of 2008 and have since opened 3 more places and stay involved in a variety of projects. I also co-host a food + drink podcast called Shift Drink Podcast (shiftdrinkpodcast.com). That's just a fun project for myself and my co-host. We don't make money from it, but it's a great excuse to meet interesting people from all over the world.

What was the first time you encountered Tiki/Polynesian Pop culture?
(ER): The earliest I can remember would be from visiting the local, old school Chinese joint not far from where I grew up on the southside of Indianapolis. They're still open and still have the classic menus (though quite faded now), Koi pond, Tiki mugs, and Pu Pu Platters! (Editor's Note - this would be the fabulous Lotus Garden in Greenwood, Indiana!) Though that's probably the first time I encountered a slice of it, rum is what re-introduced me as an adult. One of our places, Black Market, has over 125 rums available on the shelf. Years ago we started off with a small collection and not much knowledge about rum but I now hunt down esoteric and rare bottlings wherever I am. I have a particular obsession with earthy rhum agricole and funky, Jamaican pot still rums. The rum and Tiki worlds overlap quite a bit, so my love of rum lead me back to Tiki.

Why do you think Tiki/Polynesian Pop culture continues to be popular?
(ER): It's timeless. For the general population, I think the escapism aspect is definitely a draw. As trends ebb and flow, I think people always are looking for that escape. As everyone soon finds out, the rabbit hole goes deep. Once you have that first properly-made Mai Tai, it's just a matter of time before the rest grabs a hold of you.

What do you know about the Fraternal Order of Moai?
(ER): I found about about the Fraternal Order of Moai through my friendship with Rev_Dan in Indianapolis. I've known him since high school and we re-connected through our love of cocktails and rum. We get together every so often and talk rum, Tiki, and travel. He's got a great bar in his basement called Blue Demon's Hideaway. When I'm there, we're usually making some stiff drinks with the every-so-funky Rum Fire from Hampden Estate in Jamaica. I occasionally post in the Port about rum though I'm not very good about staying active there with my busy restaurant life. I also particularly love the work that the FOM does with the Easter Island Foundation. It's great that Tiki people band together to not only enjoy each others' company but also to help people in the islands.

Tell us about your upcoming project.
(ER): The General Manager at Black Market and I recently decided to take our rum and Tiki interests and 'spin it off' from Black Market and open a Tiki bar ourselves. We are working closely with Dave Hansen of Lake Tiki on the design and plan to bring a fun and unique place to the city. We wanted to represent the Midwest well. We love the work of the coastal guys, but wanted to pay homage to the Midwest's place in Tiki history. After all, Stephen Crane was from Indiana. I don't want to give away anything too early (we won't be open until toward the end of this year) but the layout of the building - which used to be a courtroom - gives us some interesting design opportunities that larger markets like Chicago rarely get. We're leaning on some of the darker aspects of the culture - headhunters, cannibals, skulls, and PNG tribal art. The research has been a lot of fun. The logistics not so much. Ha!

What do you see for the future of the Tiki/Polynesian Pop movement?
(ER): I think it's full steam ahead. As events like Ohana Luau At The Lake, Tiki Oasis, Hukilau, Tiki Kon, and the like get bigger and bigger every year, it's coming back into the forefront of public consciousness. I have a lot of employees that are considered millennials and they're getting interested. Everything ebbs and flows. I know not everyone is going to get fully immersed in the culture, but I think bartenders and bar owners are starting to learn more about Tiki culture rather than just have a passing interest in the cocktails. Right now Tiki cocktails are trendy and I, for one, am ecstatic about that. I've heard a lot of Tikiphiles get upset that most bartenders don't understand the provenance of the drinks and therefore shouldn't be serving them, but a lot of people initially come to Tiki through the cocktails and rum. This era is going to ignite passion in a lot of people. The bars that are just interested for the sake of trendiness will move on to something else when the next hot thing comes along. But, in their wake will be a lot of bartenders and customers that got their first taste of Tiki during this current wave of excitement. When you ask "when was the first time you encountered Tiki culture" to someone 20 years from now, they're going to answer, "back around 2017".

And now for a question of Supreme Importance to the Fellows of FOM: If there is such a thing as reincarnation – what do goats come back as?
(ER): Our Overlords...

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