Posted On: 01/15/2001
I went out the other evening looking for Terry's Polynesian Lounge on North Kingshighway. I was drawn to the idea of an enigmatic Polynesian Lounge on the north side. I remembered the great late night TV spots featuring Terry and his Lounge that rivaled the commercials of local loony commercial pitchman Steve Mizerany. I always admired the large freestanding classic neon sign on Kingshighway.
We pulled up to the seedy motel where the bar was located, yet the Polynesian was nowhere to be found. That didn't stop me from going up to the bulletproof reception window in the squalid lobby to further inquire about the status of the much-glorified bar. The clerk came out and laughed at me when I asked him about the bar. Apparently the bar had closed a while back. This put our crew in a predicament, for we had our hearts set on the mysterious Polynesian Lounge. We decided to go to another eccentric looking bar a bit further south on North Kingshighway. We went to a radiant bar called Club Elite, where according to the tall freestanding sign: "the particular people meet."
The bar is located just north of Delmar near Enright on Kingshighway. The new and unusual looking bar is especially noticeable from the street. The architecture of the building matches up with the neighboring fast food spots that line this part of Kingshighway. The bar had been a Saint Louis favorite, Pantera's (what a hunk!) Pizza joint, during its previous incarnation.
The interior of the bar is sparkling with the massive amount of different types of lighting. On the purple painted steal beamed ceiling are neon lights and hanging icicle lights. There are a series of tables with cozy booths lining the walls. On the stage was a sharply dressed older man named Julius Carlos who was providing the DJ entertainment for the evening. Julius was quietly sitting behind his gear in his bright blue suit and hat. The stage had a spinning disco lights. There was a beat up coffee can tip jar in front of the still Julius Carlos.
The high wood topped bar is located in the rear of the bar. The stools are just a bit short for the bar, so even a tall person seems like they are just a kid when they pull up a stool to the bar. The bar has a standard selection of beer and liquor, but the liquor drinks are some of the heaviest poured in town. The drop ceiling above the bar is painted sparkly green. To the side of the bar is a large fish tank with a backlit stained glass window that bears a depiction of a volcano.
Sitting over at one of the high top tables was a congenial looking older bearded gentleman wearing a Terry's Polynesian hat and shirt. I asked the spunky and outgoing female bartender, who was wearing a large belt buckle inscribed with her name, Donna, about this gentleman's outfit. She informed me that the capped man was her father and he was in fact Terry, the owner of the Polynesian Lounge. Apparently he had owned both the Polynesian Lounge and Club Elite. Terry closed the Polynesian about a year ago due to problems with the motel. When decorating Club Elite he put up the stained glass decoration and a few other items that were originally from the lounge. Terry is a very friendly and wanted to make sure that we felt welcome. He was happy to see us and told us all about the place.
The patrons of the bar for the most part are well dressed, with some wearing suits. The clientele is racially mixed, but is primarily 30 and up African American. The bar has a 30 and up age restriction, which I unintentionally ignored that evening. The bar has a menu comprised of food of mostly the fried variety with a fancy strip steak rounding out the offerings.
Near the end of the evening Julius Carlos, the DJ, leaned forward from his seat and for the first time he spoke into to the microphone and matter of factly informed the crowd, "Now playing is the Godfather of Soul; James Brown. Ladies and gentleman, Soul Brother Number One; James Brown." I went up to tip the elegant mustached man on his fine choice of tunes. He jumped up to shake my hand and welcomed me to Club Elite and thanked me for my generosity. He wanted to know how my time was at the club and if there was anything I wanted to hear.
This was a nice farewell gesture in this warm and unique bar. Club Elite, provided you are over 30, is a funky, fun place to stop and I recommend it.
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