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Tiki Central Forums Locating Tiki Bob Lee's Islander in Boston

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Bob Lee's Islander in Boston
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 5148
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2008-07-23 10:02 pm   Permalink


On 2006-04-13 11:46, the drunken hat wrote:

anyone know what year bob lee's was opened? also is bob lee's lantern house owned by the same bob lee?

I found this interesting bit of history on Bob Lee's Islander. It seems as though Bob started out as the Lantern House and then switched to the Islander. When was it the Aloha Lounge and Restaurant from my previous postcard?

"I remember Bob Lee's Islander as the best Polynesian/Chinese Restaurant in Boston. When I was a first year art student in 1960 we would venture to Chinatown at least two times a week to Bob Lee's for lunch. Being art students, a young Bob Lee who was renovating his father's restaurant then called Bob Lee's Lantern House proudly showed us what was being done to the new restaurant...a true departure from the dimly lighted 40s style Lantern House. A large canvas curtain separated the old from the new additional space now being renovated into a lavish tropical paradise with waterfalls, bridges over running streams with goldfish. Large tropical peacock chairs filled the many exotic rooms with sounds of Martin Denny and Arthur Lyman enhancing the decor. Now called Bob Lee's Islander, lines waited for hours every Friday and Saturday nights around the block to get in after the nightclubs closed. Bob Lee would be standing at the bamboo framed door, his black hair slicked back and dressed in a tuxedo welcoming his female patrons with a Hawaiian Lei and the familiar "Welcome to Bobby Lee's Islander" We became regulars at Bob Lee's, knew the bartender Jimmy and many of us were known to Bob Lee on a first name basis. We were always brought to the front of the waiting line which impressed our dates. Bob Lee's Islander flourished into two decades, however, Bob Lee who was very popular in Chinatown and had the title of "The Unofficial Mayor of Chinatown", got into a lot of very serious financial trouble. As a result of his many business and personal problems his restaurant and himself aged rapidly over the last years of operation. A new decade arrived where restaurants dropped the "Polynesian" and went back to "Chinese". Bob Lee left the United States and went back to China after his "dream" restaurant failed where he died an old man. Every time I listen to Martin Denny's "Quiet Village" or Arthur Lyman's "Taboo" LP (always played at Bob Lee's ) I go back to that fabulous place in a 1960s Boston Chinatown that was the "Best of the Best" in it's day."

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