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Tiki Central Forums Locating Tiki The Tropics, Lincoln, IL (restaurant)
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The Tropics, Lincoln, IL (restaurant)
Tonga Trader
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jan 23, 2006
Posts: 99
From: Chicago
Posted: 2007-10-01 08:54 am   Permalink

Name:The Tropics
Type:restaurant
Street:1007 Lincoln Pkwy (Rt. 66)
City:Lincoln
State:IL
Zip:
country:USA
Phone:n/a
Status:defunct

Description:
Existing restaurant building with vintage neon sign. Business closed. Building architecture unremarkable. Interior appears to have been remodeled c. 1980's or later - no evidence of tiki or tropical decor apparent. Modern era sign on buidling above door also using Tropics name and font. Lincoln, Illnois is halfway between Bloominton and Springfield.



 
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Tonga Trader
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jan 23, 2006
Posts: 99
From: Chicago
Posted: 2007-10-01 08:59 am   Permalink

Anybody know anything about this place? We stopped here yesterday. Really amazing sign. From what we could see through the grimy windows, it was remodeled in "family restaurant chic" some time ago. Wondering if this could have been a rare tiki oasis in the middle of Illinois.

TT




 
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Chub
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Joined: Jan 26, 2005
Posts: 264
From: Detroit, MI but now in sunny Los Angeles
Posted: 2007-10-01 09:50 am   Permalink

From the look of that cool sign, I bet that's not the original building.

 
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Tipsy McStagger
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Joined: Nov 21, 2004
Posts: 3516
From: HELL
Posted: 2007-10-01 10:14 am   Permalink

what you have here is a classic route 66 icon....i went to college at illinois state university which is just up the road in bloomington/normal...my best bud used to live in lincoln where the tropics is and we went there to eat a few times (this was back in 1988/89)..it was just a buffet place, fulla old folks back then...they did have a few plastic palm trees like the classic 1960's ones you see in old tiki establishments and a few murals and one of those giant wallpaper posters featuring a sunset and ocean scene....it was pretty run down back then but no tiki.....i stopped in again on the route 66 anniversary tour to st louis back in 1997...the place was still running and still looked as ratty as it did in my college days.....the sign is awesome and i've seen it lite up at night..in fact i'm sure i have photos of it.

hey bamboolodge....you were with us on that route 66 tour....did you guys get a chance to duck into this place??


 
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icebaer69
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Joined: Feb 03, 2007
Posts: 194
Posted: 2007-10-01 10:20 am   Permalink

Quote:




beautiful neon + beautiful car !


 
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tikibars
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Joined: Apr 11, 2002
Posts: 2024
From: Aku Hall, Chicago
Posted: 2007-10-01 11:22 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2007-10-01 08:59, Tonga Trader wrote:
....a rare tiki oasis in the middle of Illinois.



Great find.

Not to bee TOO nitpicky, but Tiki Oasises in the middle of Illinois are actually rather common - Tiki in the sticks is a grand tradition in the land of Lincoln!


Hala Kahiki, Aku Tiki Room, The Breakers... all still open, and all exactly close to the heart of NOTHING!





 
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Tonga Trader
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jan 23, 2006
Posts: 99
From: Chicago
Posted: 2007-10-01 12:38 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2007-10-01 11:22, tikibars wrote:
Quote:

On 2007-10-01 08:59, Tonga Trader wrote:
....a rare tiki oasis in the middle of Illinois.



Great find.

Not to bee TOO nitpicky, but Tiki Oasises in the middle of Illinois are actually rather common - Tiki in the sticks is a grand tradition in the land of Lincoln!


Hala Kahiki, Aku Tiki Room, The Breakers... all still open, and all exactly close to the heart of NOTHING!








Okay, but those places are all in Northern Illinois. What I meant by middle was literally the center of the state, and/or Central Illinois in general. We were headed down to Springfield and in researching the trip I couldn't find anything on TC or Critiki south of the Aku Tiki Room. And we don't have TRT2 yet.

TT


 
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Tipsy McStagger
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 21, 2004
Posts: 3516
From: HELL
Posted: 2007-10-01 2:57 pm   Permalink

i'm suprised that the tropics held on for as long as it did....lincoln illiniois is not exactly the hub of entertainment!! (or maybe that IS the reason it held on so long... I suspect that any other tiki establishments out in the sticks would have been the first to go when tiki went into it's decline...i really don't know of any others between here and st. louis....if there were (and i'm sure there were in the late 40's 50's) they are long gone now...

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[ This Message was edited by: Tipsy McStagger 2007-10-01 14:58 ]


 
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BambooLodge
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Joined: Feb 09, 2003
Posts: 555
From: Just up the road from Chef Shangri-La
Posted: 2007-10-01 4:26 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2007-10-01 10:14, Tipsy McStagger wrote:
hey bamboolodge....you were with us on that route 66 tour....did you guys get a chance to duck into this place??


Dave it was actually the 1999 IL66 motor tour.
We went there for breakfast, it was your typical breakfast/lunch kinda place. There was a fire sometime previous, so the restaurant had been completely re-habbed, but the lounge was still original. The manager did show us the lounge, it was really cool,(lotsa thatch and bamboo, a few masks on the wall) but it was not in use, and they had no intention on doing anything with it at the time. The next year when we did the tour and it was closed, and has been ever since.
According to IL66 historians John and Lenore Weiss, the Tropics was built in late 40's early 50's and was quite the place in it's hayday, up thru the early 70's, when the world went the way of the interstate highway system.
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uncle trav
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Joined: Apr 27, 2005
Posts: 1782
From: Kalamazoo
Posted: 2008-09-21 4:33 pm   Permalink

A matchbook from the Tropics with a bad photo of the lounge but any photo is better than no photo.







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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4275
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2008-09-22 5:42 pm   Permalink

I have this postcard showing some interior scenes of the Tropics Restaurant in Lincoln.



Here is a close up of the bar with some nice bamboo work and a great wall mural.




Here is a close up another dining room with bamboo work and more murals.


Here is the back of the card.




I have also included this great menu from The Tropics that is on Mimi Payne's website.






Another version of the Matchbook



Here is a photo of the great Route 66 sign for The Tropics shot at night.



Finally a little history I found on the web on how The Tropics came to be in Lincoln.

The Tropics Dining Room and Cocktail Lounge opened its doors in 1950 at the hand of Vince Schwenoha. While it might seem odd that a restaurant in Lincoln, Illinois be named after a location that is so different, it was actually named this way because of a tour of duty in the military that took Mr. Schwenoha to Hawaii. In the 1950s, the Tropics became famous for the Tropicburger, a combination of one bun and two hamburger patties that Mr. Schwenoha had brought back from California. In the years since then, the Tropics has traded hands many times, remained open for business for quite some time.


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11139
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2008-09-22 9:15 pm   Permalink

Thanks D.C., nice work. What a beaute. The name and sign, like Sugie's Tropics, did seem early, Pre-Tiki to me.

 
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Tipsy McStagger
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 21, 2004
Posts: 3516
From: HELL
Posted: 2008-09-23 05:08 am   Permalink



..nice collection of stuff from the place.....those dining room murals were still up on the walls in 1999 when i was last there.....though i don't remember those crazy columns...those may have been taken down and were just plain columns at the time....


 
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TabooDan
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 18, 2004
Posts: 641
From: BC, Canada
Posted: 2008-09-30 07:33 am   Permalink

I find UncleTrav's matchbook interesting as it shows quite a difference in the look of the bar as compared to the later DustyCajun's postcard.
The bar has a curved bamboo roof and also the bar looks different. It looks as though the painting/mural in the background is the same though. The stools were changed as well. You dont see too many pictures of the inside of these places where there were changes made so it's cool to see.

Glad to see a reno in a cool place like this kept the same atmosphere but I guess just a little updating was needed even for back then.
Cool post and pic's everyone!!
TabooDan



[ This Message was edited by: TabooDan 2008-09-30 07:37 ]


 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4275
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2008-10-01 12:12 pm   Permalink

I tried unsuccessfully to win this menu from The Tropics on ebay a little while back(KC again). The menu logo uses the cool road sign which makes a lot of sense.








 
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