Franklin “Tiny’ Phelps passed away this week after many years of battling a several illnesses. Tiny’s Tropical Bar on Central Avenue was Costa Rica’s first sport’s bar and flourished during the late 1980s, and 1900s. Tiny closed his doors because he was unable to run the business due to his declining health around 2003.
The last time I saw Tiny was a few months ago when he was visiting Costa Rica from Michigan with his brother Bill. I am really fortunate to have spent a few hours with him reminising about the good old days in a very different Costa Rica.
Tiny was originally from Michigan and played football for the Detriot Lions during the 1950s. So, the name “Tiny” was misnomer since he was over six feet tall and weighed about 250 fifty pounds in his prime. He told me that at one time he worked as a bouncer for a couple of bars which was had to believe because he was such a gentle man. He lived and worked in Las Vegas for many years prior to moving to Costa Rica around 1986. Shortly after that he opened his bar in a building with a beautiful brick facade and interior on Avenida Central between Calle 9 and Calle 11. Prior to Tiny purchasing the place it was a popular Costa Rican bar and restaurant called “La Fonda” owned by Fabio Quesada and his father.
Tiny’s became the hangout for many a gringo in the downtown area. Unlike many of the bars downtown Tiny tried discouraged the working girls from hanging out there. Tiny could always be found interacting and throwing down a couple of Heineken beers with his loyal following. During football season the bar was packed on Sundays. A lot of people frequented Tiny’s because of the food and not just the drink. Doña Carmen ran the kitchen like a battleship and always mingled with the customers.
Over the years I made a lot of really good friends at Tiny’s and shall always cherish the memories of the good times there. One of my fondest memorizes was right after I got married Tiny hosted a party for my wife and I at the bar. Fee of charge.