1007 Hickox Drive
- Miscellaneous Information:
The Tropics restaurant was opened in 1950 by Vince Schwenoha in Lincoln, Illinois. Vince served in Hawaii during his WWII tour of duty, which was the inspiration for the name of his new business. The site included a large, signature neon sign that quickly became the symbol of the restaurant and a Route 66 landmark. In 1955, Lew Johnson became manager of the Tropics. Under the leadership of Lew and his wife, Bev, it operated successfully as a family run business for the next five decades, attracting customers from far and wide. Lew and Bev Johnson were The Tropics’ longest proprietors, running the café from 1953 to 1997. After that, it went through several short-lived efforts by other owners before closing for good in 2003. In 2016, the Tropics was inducted into the Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame. After sitting vacant for ten years, the property was purchased for the construction of a new McDonalds restaurant. While the building could not be saved, a public/private partnership was put in place between the City of Lincoln, the Logan County Tourism Bureau, and the Johnson Family to preserve and restore the iconic Tropics neon sign. The fully restored sign sits just yards away from its original location at the intersection of the 1940-77 alignment of Route 66 (Lincoln Parkway) and Woodlawn Road.