by Eric Barton | June 30, 2022
The Illicit Past—and Prosperous Future—of Cap’s Place
Now Broward's oldest restaurant, this supper club was a crime when it opened, and coming up on a century later, it’s still in the same spot.
They waited until a full moon and then let the tide roll in. The entire crew carried shotguns just in case the gators attacked.
Having purchased a barge in 1928 in Miami, reportedly used by Henry Flagler when constructing the railroad to Key West, the team beached the barge.
By 1929, they had the makings of a restaurant. They added windows and a bar and called it Club Unique. The founders were rumrunner Eugene Theodore “Cap” Knight and Albert Hasis, a runaway teenager from Pennsylvania. The supper club and underground casino they created, now called Cap’s Place, remains Broward County’s oldest restaurant with a century of tall tales.
The island those enterprising bootleggers first landed on is now part of the mainland, but a tender still takes diners out to the restaurant from a dock tucked back in a neighborhood.
From the beginning, the restaurant at Club Unique lived up to its name, with a Florida-centric menu of turtle-egg pancakes served with guava jelly and homemade seagrape jelly accompanied by hot rolls. Membership to the supper club cost a quarter and allowed access to the illegal gambling room. It’s said to have seen the likes of Joe DiMaggio, Susan Hayward, Winston Churchill and President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Now, three Hasis kids run Cap’s affairs: Tom Hasis handles the books, Talle Hasis manages the place, and Ted Hasis makes repairs and keeps the boat running. Tom Hasis likes to point out that his mother was pregnant with him in 1946 when she was tending bar. “So I was actually here before I was here,” he says.
Patrons will find Cap’s doesn’t look all that different from how it did way back when. You’ll stop first at the bar, where there’s a rustic collection of kitsch. The dining room’s off-kilter floor creaks a tale of a thousand people who’ve dined at that wooden table before you. The menu includes fresh-catch fish, veggie platter, crab cakes and the signature heart-of-palm salad. Cap’s had the same chef for 48 years before Sylvester Love died in 1990.
Tom Hasis is 75 years old now, but there’s no succession plan. “We’re young,” he laughs. “My aunts and uncles all made it to a hundred, so I’m a young guy, middle-aged, sort of.”
Even though Cap’s has a wall of framed articles, new attention never ceases to surprise him. “It’s nice every once in a while to get recognition,” Hasis says. “A lot of people think, ‘Cap’s Place? They’re still there? I thought they blew away a long time ago.’”