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Nostalgia For King's Tropical Inn Sparks a Trip to the L.A. Library's Menu Collection

Exploring the LAPL menu collection is an ongoing project in which we'll take a close look at the menus owned by the Los Angeles Public Library. Read about the project here.

A couple of weeks ago, we received this reader inquiry from Bob:

"In the 1950's there used to be a restaurant on La Cienega Blvd. around Jefferson known as King's Tropical Chicken Restaurant. In the front of restaurant was a courtyard with a koi fish pond. What ever happened to it? And what is the correct name? I used to go there as a kid with my parents."

After a little futile Googling, I decided to put our old friend the Los Angeles Public Library Menu Collection to the test, and wouldn't you know it, they have quite a few menus from King's Tropical Inn, beginning in the 1930s and on up through the 1960s. The last menu they have is dated 1963.

There were two locations of King's, both on Washington and both opened in the 1920s. Both buildings were quite grand. The second location was demolished after being damaged in the Northridge earthquake, though I've been able to find no information on when or why the first location was demolished. [Source: Vanishing Los Angeles County by Corey and Sarah Stargel] Now it's all ugly retail and industrial buildings along that stretch of Washington -- there are certainly no koi ponds.

The restaurants were known for their chicken dinners, as well as their squab. In the '30s, a chicken or squab dinner cost $1.25. By 1963, it had gone up to $2.85.

A postcard from King's Tropical Inn, May 1941
A postcard from King's Tropical Inn, May 1941
lapl.org

See also:

- From the Los Angeles Public Library Menu Collection: Nat Goodwin Cafe, a Glittering 1913 Restaurant on a Private Santa Monica Pier

- From the Los Angeles Public Library Menu Collection: The Luau, a 1950s Tiki Bar in Beverly Hills

- The LAPL Menu series archives


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