Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Florida History: Cap's Place - legacy of gambling raids, famous visitors, turtle steaks and more ...

Cap’s Place
Dock: 2765 NE 28th CT
Lighthouse Point, 954-941-0418

By Jane Feehan

Built in 1928 and originally known as Club Unique, Cap’s Place in Lighthouse Point had a reputation for good food—and wide open gambling during the 1930s and 40s.

Raids on gambling establishments those years were intermittent, with threats to operations dependent on political winds. In February 1949, the state beverage department sent a “flying squad” of five agents in two cars throughout Broward County to clamp down on gambling by looking for liquor sales violations.

They lost their game when they entered Cap’s. Agents, with reporters in tow, saw gambling at the swank spot but were unable to make any arrests. Gambling at Cap’s took place in a building separated from the bar. If gambling and drinking had been co-mingled, they may have been in luck – and the management knew it; they did not bother to close the place during the raid. But there was another catch: the flying squad was unauthorized to make an arrest without a deputy sheriff or constable present. They were sent on their mission without either.

A note on the political climate that year: Gov. Fuller Warren had taken office a month earlier (Jan. 4, 1949). In 1950-51 a U.S. Senate Committee investigating gambling and the corruption of public officials accused Warren of funding his gubernatorial campaign with mob money. Gambling ceased at Cap’s Place in 1951.

Cap’s, once known for quality seafood, green turtle steaks, and turtle egg pancakes, still operates and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. The period of its significance is listed as 1929-1949. Cap’s legacy includes a meal delivered to Winston Churchill and his host Edward Stettinius, Jr. (b. 1900 - d. 1949), former lend-lease administrator and later Secretary of State, who were vacationing in Pompano Beach. (See my post on that visit at: http://bit.ly/1LhXvzV)

The separate building now holds a bar and a trove of historical photos. It’s accessible by boat and auto but most prefer to take Cap’s motor launch from the Lighthouse Point Marina. It’s worth an evening out but the food has its ups and downs.

I can’t think of any other significant gambling house of that era that still stands in Broward County, perhaps not in Miami-Dade County, either. If someone knows of such a place, leave a post below.Copyright © 2012. All rights reserved. Jane Feehan. 

For more South Florida history, see: janeshistorynook.blogspot.com 

Miami News, Feb. 25, 1949
U.S. Senate Investigation of Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce, 1950

Tags: Famous South Florida restaurants,  Broward County gambling during 1930s, 1940s, turtle steaks, where Winston Churchill and FDR dined, motor launch to restaurant, restaurant in Intracoastal  in Lighthouse Point, film industry researcher, historical researcher

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