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The Tropics, Beverly Hills, CA (restaurant)

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Name:The Tropics
Street:421 N. Rodeo Drive
City:Beverly Hills

The Tropics was opened by Harry "Sugie" Sugarman in Beverly Hills in 1936. This was one of the earliest of the Pre-Polynesian Pop power houses that catered to the motion picture industry. The Tropics was purchased by Steven Crane and turned into the Luau in 1953, what a history.

I have the classic fold-out menu mailer with the three monkeys. There are several versions of this one.

I have also seen other items from The Tropics:

A souvenir photo with a nice view of the interior

A menu from the Chinese Buddha Room.

This is a cool advertising hand bill.

A close-up of the bamboo bar.

The bar looks similar to the first bar at the Luau, as scene in this postcard I have.

Here is an early photo of the exterior of the building after it became the Luau in 1953.

My understanding is that Sugarman opened a second Tropics in Hollywood.


[ Edited by: Dustycajun 2010-05-31 15:46 ]

The other Tropics was at Sunset and Vine but I believe these places were more monkey and less Tiki if any. It later became an Ah Fong's.

Thanks BB. I found an article in LA magazine that talked about the second Tropics in Hollywood..

He also started the Hollywood Walk of Fame, cool.

Sugarman sold The Tropics in Hollywood to Harry Arnheim. I have a matchbook from this era.



Great post DC ..thanks.

Here 's the other link where we touched on the other Tropics.


Tiki Shaker, thanks for posting that link. I remember that thread now and had no idea back then that the Tropics on Vine was actually Sugie's second one.

As for the Vine location, I am still somewhat confused about the time line. It looks like the same building was Sugie's Tropics, then Arnheim's Tropics, then Tom Brenemans', and finally Ah Fongs.

Here is an old postcard showing a night-time scene of the original Sugie's Tropics. You can see the bowling alley next door.

Sugie sold the Tropics to Harry Arnheim in the mid 1940's.

Here is the photo of the Tropics that Bora Boris posted - it looks different now, maybe the Arnheim era.

Here is the interior postcard from the Harry Arnheim's Tropics.

Arnheim must have sold the place to Tom Breneman. Here is a postcard I have showing the interior of Breneman's - it is the same as the Arnheim Tropics postcard.

I think that Ah Fongs then took over the Tom Breneman's place when Breneman moved next door into the bowling alley, as seen in these photos from Tiki Shaker's post.

How does that sound??


Sounds great, fantastic thread that really needed to be done. Great pre tiki history shown here.

The menu I have and posted at the beginning of the thread featured the wine list. Must have been an early version, as the menu changed to tropical drinks named after movie stars. Here is that version of the menu that Sven posted a while ago.

Also found this image of another Tropics menu type made of wood.

A few matchbooks styles, including the raised breasts variety.


Here's one with the same graphics but different phone numbers, and the full view of the interior:

Buzzy Out!

The Tiki Transmission Tradition evidenced early here with a knock-off matchbook from the Tropics located in Burlingame, California.

Here is another menu from the Beverly Hills Tropics featuring your host Sugie on the cover.

An interesting bio

The drinks, all named after stars with a punch line.

Some good stuff here.


Oh yes, forgotten drinks and forgotten names....this is where I saw the Rum, Gum & Lime first, one of my faves now at the Tiki Ti.

Here are three photos of the Tropics I found at the Los Angeles Library photographic collection, which I checked out after seeing Abstractiki's posts.

The first one stated that the man on the left was Charlie Chaplin.

The second one was from a New Years eve party, note the custom Tropics tablecloth.

The last one is another street view.


I would love to have one of those table cloths. Charlie just doesn't look the same with out his mustache.

Nice post DC, that is one of the best collections. A lot of the different archives charge money or make you get a library card from the local library that holds the collection. That can be a chore so Mahalo to the LA Library.

Found another old photo on line from the Beverly Hills Tropics.

The dinner menu, drink menu and matchbook proudly displayed.


Here is a beauty of a souvenir photo holder showing some pretty rare photos of the inside and exterior of the original Beverly Hills Tropics.

Sadly not won by me.


I discovered these menu images of the Tropics buried deep in the LA Library Menu archives. This menu is stored in the "Rare Book Room" of the Central Library.

Here is another menu image I found. It is similar to the one DC posted earlier in this thread.




Here is an old (somewhat crusty!) place mat I got from the Hollywood Tropics.

It really shows the tie in of the movie industry and movie sets with the early pre-Tiki bars in LA.

I also saw this nice photo of the Beverly Hills interior in a photo holder that was for sale on-line.

And, a matchbook from the Christmas holiday season.


Really like the art on the placemat!

There is that great table cloth again - gotta find one of those. And that placemat is a keeper!

Chub posted on Tue, Aug 21, 2012 6:42 PM

The following is from the Los Angeles Public Library Collection.
Photo taken of Mignon Woidemann and Jackson Moffett dining in the gay Hawaiian surroundings of "Sugie's" tropics, smart rendezvous in Beverly Hills. Photo dated: June 28, 1937.

L to R: Reizel "Rose" Strelnicker, Sarah "Sherry" Trevor, Aaron and Esther Cordon at celebration (possibly New Year's celebration) at the Tropics restaurant in Hollywood.

Charles Chaplin hosted a party at Harry Sugarman's Tropics in Beverly Hills in November 1936. Seated left to right in the outdoor patio of the Tropics are Mr. Chaplin, Anita Lees, Paulette Goddard and John Emerson.

View of Vine Street looking north from Sunset Boulevard. The Tropics Restaurant and Hollywood Recreation Center Bowling are on the left, with the Broadway Hollywood in the distance.

Night view of Vine Street looking north from Sunset Boulevard. The Tropics Restaurant and Hollywood Recreation Center Bowling are on the left, with the Broadway Hollywood in the distance.

another picture of the interior lifted of this cool site -




Actually, I own(ed) the vintage color negative of that picture you just posted - it sold to me on the Bay last year. The subject was identified on the sleeve - it's Shirley Temple and her first husband John Agar at Sugie's Tropics. They divorced in 1949, so presumably this picture is late 1940s.


It's cool to see that vintage picture of Duke in the background when it wasn't vintage!

That's a great photo of Shirley Temple! Here are a few ads that bring home the movie star lineage that Sugie's Tropics had back in the day.

He went from "Informal Cocktail Lounge of the Motion Picture Industry"

to "Informal Dining Rooms and Cocktail Lounge of the Motion Picture Industry"

They must have expanded the lounge to add dining rooms.



This ad for the Tropics appeared in a 1949 Playgoer program booklet for the Earl Carroll Theatre Restaurant, Hollywood.

Nice finds Clayfran! It's nice to have a new voice adding to the history of tiki. Thanks and keep up the good search.

aloha, tikicoma

This view looking southwest on Vine Street towards Sunset Boulevard (left of center) includes the Globe Investment Company (1529 Vine Street) and the Tropics restaurant.


Spotted this nice old photo of one of the dining huts on the patio at the Tropics in Beverly Hills.



Sorting through my Tiki Lamp collection and thought this lamp should be on here. I love this lamp as the Monkeys eyes glow when the light is on. The bottom reads
Sugie"s Tropics Beverly Hills calif.


Cool token! Here is a pretty high resolution photo of the Tropics in Hollywood.



from ebay

1945 night club photo.

On 2015-12-30 13:12, hiltiki wrote:
from ebay

1945 night club photo.

Do a Google search on the names "Woody Aleene Jackson" and you'll find that this woman has an interesting history. Her later role in the crafts industry has caused quite a bit of information (including cool vintage photos) to be collected and published.

I picked up a photo folder from the Tropics in Beverly Hills.

The inside photo was from a sorority meeting in 1948.

Girls night out!



Small 1942 ads

Based on the graphics from the sign and some other images, I believe this cocktail napkin was probably from this location of The Tropics?




Ok, so I'm about a decade late to the party here. Doing a ton of research on this place and its lineage. Found a ton on Newspapers.com and have posted a lot on various Facebook pages. From my personal collection is this Souvenir photo folder for Billingsley's Cafe Tropics c. 1945. There's also this cartoon that was offered for sale at Heritage Auctions. The folder is almost identical to the one for Tom Breneman's that was previously posted. My "guess" is Billingsley had it for a short time before being bought out by Breneman? Cartoon is from 1944, photo circa 1945, same date as Breneman...Screen Shot 2023-02-04 at 3.49.36 PMScreen Shot 2023-02-04 at 3.45.19 PMScreen Shot 2023-02-04 at 3.45.33 PM

[ Edited by TikiSOX on 2023-02-04 12:53:24 ]

[ Edited by TikiSOX on 2023-02-04 12:53:45 ]

[ Edited by TikiSOX on 2023-02-04 12:54:24 ]


Answered my own question... Screen Shot 2023-02-05 at 4.58.23 PM


$150,000 would be about $2.5 million in today's dollars. That's a lot of dough, especially during WWII

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