In 1946 James Toomer bought land in Berlin, NJ at the corner of Cushman and Cedar Ave. for $100. By 1948, with the help of his brothers , a nephew, and brothers in law, he built Tippin Inn – one stop on the chittlin circuit. At its prime in the 60’s, Tippin Inn headliners included B B King, Big Mabel, Steppin Fetchit, Slappy White, Fats Domino, Ike and Tina Turner. and many others. Patti LaBelle even mentions Tippin Inn in her book as one of the venues that she played.
Tippin Inn was more than a bar, it was an establishment. Jim Toomer built one section at a time. First he built the bar, known for its large horseshoe shape. Some say that it seemed to take up the entire interior. Then the chicken shack was added where dinners and candy were sold. Next the apartments were added culminating with the grand showroom. Many people in the Delaware Valley and beyond remember putting on their Sunday Best and going to dance and see shows at Jim Toomer’s large showroom. There was entertainment on the interior and exterior. There were barbeques, birthday parties and believe it or not even a St. Patricks day celebration.
Everyone has a Tippin Inn story or two to tell. All rave about the daughters and their beautiful dresses with flowers in their hair. Many of the Toomer Boomer’s tell stories of sneaking up to Tippin Inn and peaking thru the windows to see the likes of Stevie Wonder and Little Richard. Some kids James would shue away, others he would give candy and promise not to tell. Some tell of coming to Tippin Inn to party after other establishments in Philly and Lawnside closed.
In 1975 James Cecil Toomer passed away.
Written by Shamele C. Jordon
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Brief Story of Jim Toomer's Tippin Inn
– one stop on the chittlin circuit.