Former sports bar owner Frank Phelps dies in U.S.

Frank 'Tiny' Phelps

Frank Phelps, known as Tiny, died Thursday in Michigan. He was the original sports bar owner in San José and was about 80 years old.

The bar, Tiny’s Tropical Sports Bar, was on the north side of
Avenida 2 between calles 9 and 11. Tiny’s was sold in February 2002, and a Chinese restaurant now stands on the site.

Phelps opened the bar in 1988, and long-time expats remember it as the place to go for years. Gradually the neighborhood changed and there was competition. But expats knew that this was the place for a real U.S.- style hamburger and other foods not easily available here.

Phelps returned frequently to Costa Rica and kept up his friendships.

Friends said he was a former professional football player, human sports encyclopedia and general bon vivant.

Said his brother, William Phelps and friends Robert Hodel and Christopher Howard:

“Tiny was widely known for his brutal honesty and steadfast disdain for hypocrisy. Tiny’s bar stools attracted drinkers of all kinds from around the world. Although his business was a haven for everyone, Tiny did not suffer fools or con men. His tendency to ‘call it the way he saw it’ often intimidated first-time customers and always entertained his regulars.”

Tiny opened his business in Costa Rica after years of bar tending in Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas and Detroit, his friends said. Health problems sent Tiny back to the States.

Said his brother and the two friends:

“It was widely recognized that Tiny’s most recent visit was his opportunity to say good-bye. He was a man of principal and a loyal friend. Tiny was the last of a dying breed. Godspeed Tiny Phelps, we are lucky to have had the chance to know you.”

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