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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Researching the Tropical Hut

Tropical Hut
When it comes to learning about some of John’s exploits in Chicago one of the better sources is his friend and fellow adventurer, Bob Yaple, who shared the names of some of the restaurants and bars that he and John visited during their graduate school days of the early 1960s.

Locations included the Berghoff, the longtime Chicago institution serving schnitzel and sauerbraten and other German fare; the Tropical Hut, though always referred to as the "T-Hut"; Ciral's House of Tiki, itself another tropical-themed eatery in operation from 1962 to 2000; and Gordon's, which closed around 1999.

We sought out on our own adventure – albeit online – to learn a little about such locations and see what these places looked like today. Not surprisingly information about some of these places was hard to come by. For example, we were unable to find much about the Tropical Hut until we stumbled across a message board for alumni from Chicago’s Bowen High School. There they discussed life on Chicago's southeast side and, on a whim, back in July we asked if anyone knew the T-Hut’s location in the 1960s. Early answers seemed a bit too south:
9200 Stony Island Ave. but can't remember if it's the SW or NW corner of 92nd St.
It was north of 93rd Street and South of 90th Street on the West side of Stony Island Avenue.
Finally someone came to the rescue, bringing its location closer to the University of Chicago and Hyde Park:
In Hyde Park the location was 57th and Dorchester on the North side of the street. Went there every Wednesday with the family and was greeted by Florence the hostess. She couldn't believe I could eat a whole slab of ribs at 8 years old.
Recently a woman named Susan came to our rescue:
As a native south-sider and (again) resident of Hyde Park, I can straighten this out. The original location of the Tropical Hut (the "T-Hut") was on 57th Street, on the north side of the street between Kimbark and Kenwood. I think they had to move because of an ordinance banning liquor sales near schools; the site is now part of the playground of the Ray Elementary School.
Anyone else have any memories of the original location of the T-Hut, be it location or its interior?


Mia H. said...

Not sure which location we visited, but as a child, I loved going to the Tropical Hut. Thanks for the memories!

Unknown said...

Wow didn't know that there were multiple locations of tropical hut. The one that I went to as a child and a young adult was the one on 91st and Stony Island on the west side of the street It was in the middle of the block. It later became a Leona's. Not sure if that location of Leona's is still open today.

Judy B said...

I found your site because I was looking for a recipe for the chicken livers I always ordered at the T-Hut (Hyde Park version). You couldn't get chicken livers in a lot of restaurants in those days - maybe not now either. I went there with friends in the early 1960's.