Bar’s Ceiling Helps Fund Local Nonprofits

Betty Young &nbsp&nbsp Katherine Schwartz, Alameda Family Services (AFS) executive director, and AFS staff, accept a check from Forbidden Island owner, Michael Thanos.

Bar’s Ceiling Helps Fund Local Nonprofits

Patrons of Alameda’s famed tiki bar, Forbidden Island, have a tradition of pinning dollar bills to the establishment’s ceiling. According to bar owner Michael Thanos, the first customer to leave a bill behind told the story of why. The practice dates to World War II when Navy boys about to ship out pinned currency to the ceilings of favorite watering holes as a good omen. 

“They hoped to return and spend it,” said Thanos. “About eight to 10 years ago, it really caught on. Lately it had been getting out of control. We needed a reset.” Of late patrons had begun attaching currency to booths, walls and lights. 

As the holidays approached, staff collected some $8,000 from around the establishment with the intention of doing something positive with it, while leaving up personalized and foreign bills as seed money for the next round. 

Thanos described Forbidden Island as “pro-Alameda” and immediately the funds were earmarked for Alameda nonprofits. After a vote, the bar’s staff selected Alameda Family Services along with Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter and Building Futures/Midway Shelter to receive shares in the donation. 

The ceiling at Forbidden Island, 1304 Lincoln Ave., has more clear space available for new contributions. Thanos encourages patrons to continue the tradition because, as he said, “You know it will end up someplace good!”