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Victor Jules Bergeron, Jr.
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Restaurateur
    (December 10, 1902-October 11, 1984)
    Born in San Francisco, California
    Founded the Trader Vic's restaurant chain
    First restaurant opened in Oakland (November 17, 1934)
    Wrote 'Trader Vic's Book of Food and Drink' and 'Trader Vic's Bartender's Guide'
    He liked to claim (falsely) that he was born on a South Pacific island and lost a leg in a shark attack.
    His restuarant was originally called Hinky Dink's.
    The official company history claims that he changed Hinky Dink's from a standard bar to a polynesian joint after a trip to Hawaii; most other sources claim the inspiration was a visit to Don the Beachcomber's pioneering tiki bar.
    He and Don had a friendly rivalry over which one invented the mai tai cocktail.
    The food served at his restaurants has little relation to authentic Polynesian cuisine.
    As interest in tiki culture and exotica faded, his chain started shrinking in the 1980s.
    When he was six, his left leg was amputated to prevent the spread of tuberculosis of the knee.
    He was a colorful showman who would flip skillets of food high into the air and over a ceiling beam.
    Columnist Herb Caen wrote about the original Trader Vic's, 'The best restaurant in San Francisco is in Oakland.'
    A spread in 'Life' magazine dubbed him 'the Aristotle of alcohols' and 'the undisputed monarch of South Seas fixings.' (1951)
    He devoted much of his life to working with amputees at Naval hospitals in California and to lobbying the Veterans Administration to improve rehabilitation programs for servicemen who lost limbs.
    His chain had a resurgence in the 2000s, especially overseas.

Credit: C. Fishel


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