What is a Saloon? Well Merriam Webster defines it as “a place where alcoholic drinks are served” While I agree with the technical term of the Saloon, however to me a Saloon is much more than that. A Saloon is a place that you feel as comfortable as do at home. It’s friendly with great service and great drinks. It’s a place that you can go with friends to celebrate or just have fun, but it can also be a place to be alone and reflect on your life. Behind the bar at every Saloon is the BAR TENDER (no mixologist here), but the real hero’s of the Saloon are the owner’s (The “Keeper”). So I thought it will be cool to list some great Saloon Keeper’s that this country has had over the years:
- Ken Atretsky – Aretsky’s Patroon (160 East 46th Street, New York, NY) – Ken is a gentlemen and he has built a magnificent place. Whether you go to the Restaurant on the first floor, to the meeting rooms on the second or to the Roof it is just a wonderful place. Ken is my top choice of Saloon Keeper for two important reasons, (1) because I have been to his Saloon, (2) I am fortunate enough to call him Friend. To learn more about Ken Aretsky visit Patroon I am sure he will say hello to you and tell him that Dennis sent you.
- Paul “Skinny” D’Amato – The 500 Club (Atlantic City, NJ) – From the 1930s through 1973 (when the club burned down) The 500 Club (or the “5”) was one of the hottest nite club’s in the country. The 500 Club’s Keeper was Paul “Skinny” D’Amato (yes he really was skinny). Know as Mr. Atlantic City, his club hosted celebrities and plain folk alike. Legend has it that Skinny D’Amato taught Frank Sinatra how to order a drink, hold a cigarette and how to hold a microphone on stage. He also put together the most successful comedy team in US history Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis. Their first performance together was at the 500 Club. Frank Sinatra was a Pall Bearer at Skinny’s funeral.
- Benard “Toots” Shor – Toot’s Shor Restaurant (New York, NY) – Toots Shor’s had three locations, but the most famous was the one located at 51W 51st Street in Manhattan. Toots Shor’s Restaurant was home to celebrities and regular folk, it was a big hang out of Frank Sinatra, Jackie Gleason, Frank Gifford, Mickey Mantle, Billy Martin and Whitey Ford to name of few. today if you go 51W 51st Street you will see a plaque dedicated to the legendary Saloon. Legend has it that Once while standing outside his restaurant with Frank Sinatra while looking at a crowd of screaming fans being held back by police, Toots reached in his pocket, pulled out a dollar bill and said to Frank, “Here kid go across the street and buy me a paper.”
- Sherman Billingsley – The Stork Club (New York, NY) – During prohibition through the 1960s he was the founder and owner of The Stork Club – the most famous night club in history. The Stork Club was called by columnist Walter Winchell called the Stork Club “New York’s New Yorkiest place” . From the end of Prohibition in 1933 until the early 1960s, the club was the symbol of café society. Movie stars, celebrities, the wealthy, showgirls, and aristocrats all mixed here. Other New York City clubs had the sophistication and drew the sporting crowd, but the Stork Club mixed power, money and glamour.Unlike its competitors, the Stork stayed open on Sunday nights and during the summer months