A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from January 16, 2019
Vatican of Saloons (P. J. Clarke’s nickname)

P. J. Clarke’s is a saloon, established in 1884, at the corner of 915 Third Avenue and East 55th Street in Manhattan. The New York (NY) Times did a profile of bartender Doug Quinn (who started work at Clarke’s in 2003) in “The Tipsy Diaries: The Bartender of Your Dreams” by Frank Bruni on May 28, 2010:

“You need to see him (Doug Quinn—ed.) in action, not least because his 126-year-old stage if one of the city’s classic bars, what he called ‘the Vatican of saloons,’ a living diorama of a certain era and sensibility, with its penny-tile floors, carved mahogany bar, tin ceiling and stained-glass transoms.”

“The Vatican of saloons” means that P. J. Clarke’s is an established institution, like the Vatican. The term stuck, but bartender Doug Clarke did not. There was a 2012 altercation with a customer that Quinn said had groped women; the establishment apologized to the customer and fired Quinn. He opened a place nearby called Hudson Malone, on 218 East 53rd Street.

P. J. Clarke’s famous hamburgers have been called the “Cadillac of burgers.”


Wikipedia: P. J. Clarke’s
P. J. Clarke’s is a saloon, established 1884. It occupies a building located at 915 Third Avenue on the northeast corner of East 55th Street in Manhattan. It has a second location at 44 West 63rd Street on the southeast corner of Columbus Avenue.

28 May 2010, New York (NY) Times, “The Tipsy Diaries: The Bartender of Your Dreams” by Frank Bruni, pg. C21:
My mother had eyes in the back of her head; Doug Quinn must have them in the palms of his hands. (...) He apparently had, in his head, the whole liquor layout at P.J. Clarke’s, on the East Side.
(...) (Pg. C28, col. 1—ed.)
You need to see him (Doug Quinn—ed.) in action, not least because his 126-year-old stage if one of the city’s classic bars, what he called “the Vatican of saloons,” a living diorama of a certain era and sensibility, with its penny-tile floors, carved mahogany bar, tin ceiling and stained-glass transoms. 

Twitter
Nathan Deuel
@nathandeuel
NYT profiles barman at PJ Clarke’s, the ‘vatican of saloons.’ Guy served my dad and I $100s of whiskey over the yrs. http://nyti.ms/bpKT1p
4:43 PM - 27 May 2010

Twitter
Cindy Aitch
@twindy5
@BarCough - Thought you’d like NYTimes article about “Vatican of saloons.” Bartender: “They’re in my church.” #A2A - http://nyti.ms/bYey2u
8:04 PM - 29 May 2010

Twitter
Cool News
@cool_news
Doug Quinn calls P.J. Clarke’s, a 126-year old Manhattan bar “the Vatican of Saloons.” http://bit.ly/d4pGLo
8:09 AM - 3 Jun 2010

Twitter
Vegas.com
@Vegascom
Who wants to see the “Vatican of saloons?” RT @DeannaRilling P.J. Clarke’s brings old-world #bar charms to #Vegas http://bit.ly/dgwFbH
4:04 PM - 17 Nov 2010

Google Books
he Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook:
Inside the Kitchens, Bars, and Restaurants of
Mad Men
By Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin
Dallas, TX: BenBella Books, Inc.
2011
Pg. 20:
We asked Doug Quinn of P. J. Clarke’s for his suggestions. New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni calls Quinn “a legend,” and “the bartenders’ bartender.” Quinn has been tending bar at P. J. Clarke’s (“the Vatican of saloons,” he calls it) on Third Avenue since 2003.

Google Books
Over P. J. Clarke’s Bar:
Tales from New York City’s Famous Saloon

By Helen Marie Clarke
New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing
2012
Pg. ?:
Adding to the “mythical” nature of P. J. Clarke’s, singer Nat King Cole pronounced Clarke’s bacon cheeseburger as the “Cadillac of burgers,” and the New York Times declared that P. J. Clarke’s was the “Vatican of saloons.”

Business Insider
Legendary P.J. Clarke’s Bartender Doug Quinn Says He Was Fired, And Customers Walked Out In Droves
Julia La Roche Jun. 28, 2012, 8:27 AM
A tipster tells us that P.J. Clarke’s legendary bow-tie wearing bartender Doug Quinn, who was once profiled by the New York Times and called the “Bartender Of Your Dreams,” abruptly found himself out of his job last night.
(...)
He considered P.J. Clarke’s to be one of the last bastions of old world New York.

“I call P.J. Clarkes the ‘Vatican of saloons’ and it was,” he said, adding, “If people can be abusive and grope women then it’s not the ‘Vatican of saloons’ anymore.”

Twitter
The Curtis
@TheCurtisPhilly
“P.J’s in NY is often referred to as the Vatican of saloons. I promise that I will build the Cathedral of saloons.."The Curtis added,
MetroPhilly
@MetroPhilly
“The Vatican of saloons” is coming to Philadelphia @PJClarkes @PhillyMayor @TheCurtisCenter @GovEdRendell http://www.metro.us/philadelphia/p-j-clarke-s-to-open-on-washington-square/zsJpbz---AEXnXyn4vFcdk/
8:50 PM - 26 Feb 2016

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityRestaurants/Bars/Coffeehouses/Food Stores • Wednesday, January 16, 2019 • Permalink