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Tiki Central / Locating Tiki

El Tropico Room, Boston, MA (restaurant)

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Name:El Tropico Room
Street:25 Essex Street

The El Tropico Room was located upstairs in Izzy Ort’s bar and grille located on Essex Street in the Combat Zone area of Boston. I have a matchbook from this location

Back of the matchbook shows Izzy Ort.

A pre-Tiki place for sure, the matchbook advertises south seas isles.

And a nice old souvenir photo folder in my collection. Love the Beachcomber island scene!

Some info from the web:

Isadore Ort was born October 2, 1893 in Brooklyn. He was raised there, quit school after fourth grade, and eventually found work as a Coney Island bartender, pouring drinks in saloons where Eddie Cantor sang and Jimmy Durante played piano. At 21, he was president of the bartenders union in New York City. Ort arrived in Boston in the early 1930s in the employ of a bootlegger, and he must have liked the town, because he opened the Grille in 1935 and stayed with it until 1969.

Izzy stepped right out of a Damon Runyon story. Ort always wore a trenchcoat and fedora, smoked a cigar, spent his days at Suffolk Downs, settled disputes at his club with his flashlight, one of those long metal ones that used four D-cell batteries. Durante told a reporter his nickname in Brooklyn was “Knife-in-the-Pocket.”

Ort’s was a big place, with music on two floors. El Tropico was the room upstairs, and it was mostly music. The main room at street level was constantly in motion, with continuous entertainment from noon to closing. The bands had to play for strippers and singers as well as for dancers…this was a big, boisterous place, a sailors’ joint. There were four bands working downstairs on any given day, with two shifts and two bands alternating on each shift, and at least one more band working nights in El Tropico.

Photo of the exterior.


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