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Tiki Central Forums » » Locating Tiki » » Monte Proser's Beachcomber, New York and Other Locations
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Monte Proser's Beachcomber, New York and Other Locations
Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4310
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2010-04-20 9:35 pm   Permalink

Name:Monte Proser's Beachcomber
Type:restaurant
Street:Broadway at 50th
City:New York
State:NY
Zip:
country:USA
Phone:
Status:defunct

Description:
I have collected several items over the years from the Monte Proser chain of Beachcomber bar/restaurants. From what I have read, the first Beachcomber bar was located in New York.

Here is an old handbill I have from New York with the classic sailor on the deserted island logo and Chavez on the stage.



The back of the handbill with media quotes and Monte on the island.



The whole Zombie theme to the Beachcomber started when Proser borrowed the Don the Beachcomber recipe to introduce the east coast to the Zombie at the 1939 World's Fair in New York. Mr. Bali Hai has a nice photo from the World's Fair, maybe he can post it.

This is a photo holder I have from the Miami Beach location. The sailor now has company on his island!





A matchbook from Proser with the classic Monte Proser image from Miami Beach.



Love the girls on the matchsticks!



A menu from Miami.




Here is another photo holder from the Maryland Beachcomber location with the Zombie Witch Doctor.





A matchbook from Maryland with the Zombie Witch Doctor






Finally, here is a photo holder I have from Ruby Foo's Beachcomber located in Providence that looks like one of the Monte Proser locations, don't know if there was a connection.







DC



[ This Message was edited by: Dustycajun 2010-05-28 16:56 ]


 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4310
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2010-05-22 08:45 am   Permalink

Saw these cool Monte Proser Beachcomber Zombie glasses on ebay.



And, Sabu posted this Beachcomber glass and swizzle from a six piece Plunder set from vintage New York restaurants that also included the Hurricane.







DC


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11158
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2010-05-22 10:20 am   Permalink

DC, you made a nice comprehensive threat, did not see it before!
Jeez, I sure wish that one day some publisher will go for my "Book of the Beachcomber" proposal, a joint venture of me and the Bum...I was close once, but then the recession hit.


 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4310
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2010-05-22 12:06 pm   Permalink

Thanks Bigbro,

The Beachcomber book is still a great idea, there must have been hundreds and hundreds of beachcomber restaurants and bars back in the day. And the beachcomber lifestyle and the drinks, and Donn Beach, I can see it all now.

Here is the souvenir photo from Monte Proser's Zombie at the New York World's Fair from Mr. Bali Hai's awesome website.





DC


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11158
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2010-05-22 4:33 pm   Permalink

That Monte Prowser really had the East Coast in his pocket with his Beachcomber shtick for a while, "Home of the Zombie" claim and all...well actually, he didn't lie, the Beachcomber WAS the home of the Zombie -just not HIS Beachcomber. It's one thing to steal the name, but the drink claim on top of that!? The nerve! That must have really irked Donn. The Bum told me that Donn eventually won against Monte in court. But not before he sold A LOT of rum and limes.

 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4310
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2010-05-22 5:09 pm   Permalink

Did not know about Donn suing Monte.

Found this tidbit on the web about Proser and the Zombie:

Beach had good reason to protect his secret formula. "Trader Vic" was just plain Victor Bergeron until he saw Donn's joint in Hollywood. He promptly remade his own Oakland restaurant -- a hunting lodge-themed place called Hinky Dink's -- into a South Seas idyll. Trader Vic served Zombies, and in 1940 Stetson offered a straw hat it named the Zombie, "with a bow to Trader Vic." But the most egregious usurper was a Broadway publicist, producer and nightclub impresario named Monte Proser, who promoted himself as "the father of the Zombie."

Proser is best remembered as the man behind New York's Copacabana nightspot, where he hired headliners such as Frank Sinatra and Martin & Lewis. But before opening the Copa, he got a taste for exotically themed boîtes with a 1940 World's Fair bar called Monte Proser's Zombie, and then a string of East Coast restaurants called "The Beachcomber." Naturally, he featured Zombies, and even hewed to the well-worn vow that no more than two would be sold to a customer. Even aside from his theft of the Beachcomber concept, there is no doubt that Proser was the greatest fraud in the history of the Tiki craze: He didn't even like rum -- he was a Scotch-and-water man.

Syndicated columnist Lucius Beebe seemed to think the New York Beachcomber was an extension of the original California club, which he described as "a gloomy grotto of strong waters specializing in rum toddies of paralyzing dimensions." In a 1940 article headlined "Rash of Tropical Saloons Spreads Across Nation," Beebe wrote that it would soon "be possible to cross the continent without ever emerging from a Zombie swoon."

He was not thrilled by the prospect, and predicted the Tiki fad would soon fizzle, He was only off by about 30 or 40 years, which was how long it took for the deluge of faux-Polynesia finally to dry up.

Good stuff!

DC


 
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tikiyaki
Grand Member (7 years)  

Joined: May 18, 2004
Posts: 2708
From: The Exotic Port of REDONDO BEACH, CA
Posted: 2010-05-23 07:47 am   Permalink

The Matchbook covers dep[icting the sailor on the island with women waiting on him hand and foot is classic male chauvinism of the era. It made me laugh out loud.

Good stuff !


 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4310
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2010-05-23 10:05 am   Permalink

I dug up this article on the Miami Beach Beachcomber from December, 1940. with a photo of the interior being constructed.

Interesting read. Again, they make it sound like Monte Proser invented the genre!





The interior sounds pretty cool with the affects on the ceiling.

I also found an article from the New Yorker that confirmed that Monte Proser opened the Beachcomber in Providence, RI.

Talk story about Monte Proser & his night clubs, including the Copacabana. He is now managerially involved in six night clubs; the Beachcombers, In N.Y., Providence, Boston & Miami; La Conga, in Hollywood; and the Copacabana. He also has an interest in a new place George White is about to open on Broadway. Proser had dozens of partners. He has been connected with fifty night clubs during the past six years, generally as press agent. Mr. P. has also been a publicity man in Hollywood. "I once wanted to have all the clubs in the world, but I kind'a cut down. As it is, I've got a thousand employees. When you achieve your ambitions they become commonplace," he said. "I got a lot of saloons So what?"


DC


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11158
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2010-05-23 10:32 am   Permalink

Ha ha...: "two native Tahitians named JUAN and FRANK assembling SHARK nets"...."he caught Proser's enthusiasm and AT ONCE SAILED TO THE SOUTH SEAS"...! ...and "brought along three native boys from Pago Pago to help supervise with the decorations"...
Wait, I thought they were from Tahiti!? And Trader Vic's leg was bitten off by a shark, yeah!

What is also interesting is that Proser started franchising the concept on such a large scale before Donn, or even Sunny, ever did.
Proves again that Donn was not as much a business man but a people person and passionate host. Others took his concept and ran with it.


 
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GatorRob
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 20, 2004
Posts: 1770
From: 3 hrs 33 mins to paradise
Posted: 2010-05-23 1:26 pm   Permalink

Really nice work compiling all of that DC. We can discuss the authenticity of the claims and the ethics of stealing others ideas all we want, but the description of the Miami Beachcomber sounds fantastic. All part of the history...

 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11158
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2010-05-23 2:11 pm   Permalink

Well the art work looks fantastic, too! That feature matchbook is unbelievable! And the photos of the people having a ball: Shows that when an idea's time has come, and people WANT it, you better give it to them, or they're gonna git it wherever they can --coming from the originator or not.
That said, it still was a lousy thing to do to "our" Donn!


 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4310
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2010-05-28 4:54 pm   Permalink

Thanks GatorRob. I agree, the Miami Beach place sounded really amazing for an early 40's joint.

Here are images from another menu from Miami Beach that was on ebay. This one is signed by Monte.





The menu shows the different images tied to the drinks. The girls from the matchbook are from the Virgin Delight drink.




The Missionary's Downfall is... well quite literal!



Some other interesting drink names on the list. Mexiconga? Rum. Gum and Lime?? Hot Rum Cow???

DC


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11158
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2010-05-28 7:21 pm   Permalink

The Rum, Gum and Lime is my current favorite at the Tiki Ti! It's that classic rum, sugar and lime mix that forms the base of tropical drink cuisine.

 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4310
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2010-05-29 09:34 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2010-05-28 19:21, bigbrotiki wrote:
The Rum, Gum and Lime is my current favorite at the Tiki Ti! It's that classic rum, sugar and lime mix that forms the base of tropical drink cuisine.



Well I should have done a little research on that one! Turns out to be a classic, will have to try it the next time I'm at Tiki Ti.

Here is another interesting twist on the Beachcomber chain. As I posted before, the Beachcomber in Providence, RI was called Ruby Foo's Beachcomber, which was located in the Crown Hotel. It was in fact one of Monte Proser's chain as seen on this matchbook.



He must have franchised the name to Ruby Foo who was a restaurateur based out of Boston.

This matchbook I found on the web looks like she started with the standard Beachcomber logo.



Then She decided to give the franchise an oriental twist as seen on this menu from Mimi Payne's website.



Here is the Ruby Foo story from a Boston historical website.

Born in San Francisco, Ruby Foo (1904-50) moved to Boston in 1923 where she began a single-room restaurant in Boston’s Chinatown. Its popularity quickly grew, and she opened Ruby Foo’s “Den” on Hudson Street in 1929—heralded as the first Chinese restaurant to successfully cater to non-Chinese clientele. Throughout World War II, the Den remained a legendary meeting place for theatrical and sports figures and other celebrities. She opened similar restaurants in New York, Miami, Washington and Providence, becoming a nationally-known restaurateur and mentor to dozens of aspiring chefs in her native Boston.



I have been to the Ruby Foo's in New York.

DC


 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4310
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2010-05-29 2:35 pm   Permalink

I have been looking for info from the Boston Beachcomber location and found this photo on the web. It shows a group having drinks at a table.



Upon closer inspection, you can see a Zombie glass, a Beachcomber table lamp and a very cool looking goblet mug - another Crypto variety perhaps.




DC

[ This Message was edited by: Dustycajun 2010-05-30 11:54 ]


 
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