Trader Vic's Maître D' Retires After 57 Years of Mai Tais

The 80-year-old will retire at the end of this year

Trader Vic’s long-time maître d’, Claudette Lum, has decided to retire after 57 years of working in Victor Bergeron’s famed tiki restaurant and bar. The 80-year-old began her job at Trader Vic’s San Francisco location in 1960, where she developed her signature look — wearing a gardenia flower in her hair. Lum later moved on to Trader Vic’s main U.S. location in Emeryville.

"It's a very bittersweet departure. Because my heart will always be here with every single person who walks into Trader Vic's," she told local news station KTVU. Although “every single person” for Lum includes both Trader Vic regulars and bric-a-brac, the maître d’ has also seated big names like Queen Elizabeth II and former first lady Nancy Reagan.


Courtesy of Trader Vic’s

The restaurant’s longest-standing employee told KTVU that she plans to spend her retirement enjoying her eight grandchildren. "All the people who have touched my life and heart at Trader Vic's will forever be with me,” she said. “Now it is getting emotional, because I love them all.”

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Since its opening as a small tiki bar in the 1930s, Trader Vic’s has grown to include over 19 locations worldwide. While every location parrots the original’s South Pacific kitsch, only those lucky customers in San Francisco and the East Bay got to experience the hospitality of Claudette Lum. We recommend these eight tiki cocktails to drink in her honor.