I am transfixed with all things tiki, so of course am very sad I never got to visit the Zombie Hut, which used to be so close to our neighborhood at 5635 Freeport Boulevard (before it was bulldozed and replaced with a strip mall.) I imagine this must have been quite the happenin' exotic spot.
Some great sleuthing has been done by Amadscientist, who has written a Wikipedia entry regarding the Zombie Hut's history and includes images from their business card.
The Zombie Hut lives on as a reincarnation in Brooklyn, NY per several Sacramento Bee articles written by R.E. Graswich:
August 14, 2002: "The Next Big Thing in New York might be straight from Sacramento. We are talking about the Zombie Hut, a long-gone bar on Freeport Boulevard that featured bartenders in Hawaiian shirts, plastic tiki idols, pink umbrella drinks and Ed Leeteg's sexy velvet portraits of Polynesian maidens. This week, amid much fanfare, the Zombie Hut reopens - 3,000 miles away on Smith Street in Brooklyn, N.Y. "I was born and raised in Sacramento and worked as a busboy at the original Zombie Hut," said Tod Bullen. "I decided the time was right to bring it back." Since moving to New York, Tod has become a mini-tycoon in the Brooklyn restaurant scene, having partial ownership in several establishments. The new Zombie Hut, which opens Friday, is in Carroll Gardens, a gentrified Italian neighborhood known for its mob connections (Al Capone was married there). If the Zombie Hut is a hit, it's only a matter of time before some smart operator brings the concept back to Sacramento."
A post on Tiki Central from Psycho Tiki D lists this enchanting painting, "Native Dancer" original oil on silk, by Burke Tyree, 1964, as having been hung on the wall at the Zombie Hut.
A really great and in-depth history, as well as other excellent examples of Burke Tyree's velvet paintings can be seen on Minnie's Restaurant & Bar's website.
Another painter, Ed Leeteg, reportedly had several paintings at the Zombie Hut. Per another Sacramento Bee article from August 25, 1999:
"The former Sacramento sign painter, whose velvet tropical maidens are craved by collectors in Los Angeles and Honolulu, has re-exploded onto the Sacramento scene. Leeteg died in 1953, but a mention of his name right here stirred readers who recalled him hanging around the old Zombie Hut on Freeport. "He had four or five pictures there. He would sell them for a bottle of rum..."
A great article regarding Ed Leeteg is posted on Barracuda Magazine's website.
Mary Z. Johnson was a waitress at many local restaurants including the Zombie Hut. Per her May 7, 2008 obituary in the Sacramento Bee, she had quite a following according to her sister, Josephine Bodda:
"Funny and charming, she loved meeting people from all walks of life. She teased politicians at Dick and Eddie's downtown, joked with fishermen and tourists at the Crow's Nest in Isleton and dished with gay men who gave her pet names and insisted on sitting at her station in the Zombie Hut.Does anyone have any fun stories, pictures, artifacts or mementos from the original Zombie Hut to share?
"She had a big gay following," said Bodda, who managed the Polynesian-themed restaurant on Freeport Boulevard. "All her tables would be full, but they would say, 'We'll wait for Mitzie.' Sometimes they would leave her a hundred-dollar tip."
Napkin via mcclatchy1958.com
Matchbook cover via Psycho Tiki D, Tiki Central Forum post.