PERHAPS McSorley’s, Fanelli’s, the Old Town Bar, and the Ear Inn are more chronicled in the city’s lore and literature (at least they have in Forgotten NY) , but the Grand Saloon, 158 East 23rd, has a rich history as well.
Jim Naureckas, New York Songlines:
This building dates to 1843; in 1880 it was the St Blaise Hotel & Restaurant, a celebrated brothel frequented by Diamond Jim Brady. In 1911 it became Klube’s Steak House; that name is still visible on the copper facade. It was a speakeasy during Prohibition.
The Indispensable Walter Grutchfield, 14 to 42:
A sign in the window of the Grand Saloon, 158 E. 23rd St. proclaims “Fine Food and Drink Since 1880.” The history goes on as follows: “The Grand Saloon’s building was constructed in 1843. In 1880 it became the ‘St. Blaize Hotel & Restaurant’ – which was one of the finest brothels in the city at the turn of the century … In 1911, the property changed hands and became ‘Klube’s Steak House’. Klube’s established itself as an old-time family run business, catering to the locals with fine food and spirits. It was at this time that Mr. Klube, installed our unique copper facade. In the midst of prohibition, a secluded back room of Klube’s housed one of the city’s most popular speakeasies.”
Presumably the glass sign reading Klube’s Restaurant was installed at the time of the copper facade – i.e., 1911. The two end pieces (showing plates of food) seem to be newer.
The St. Blaise Hotel receives only passing mention in City of Eros: New York City, Prostitution, and the Commercialization of Sex, 1790-1920 by Timothy J. Gilfoyle (1992), p. 246. Modest “hotels like the Delevan, the German Hotel, and the St. Blaise were subdivided row houses that resembled parlor houses from the outside. They had between 15 and 50 rooms that were used by prostitutes who frequented the hotels or nearby saloons.”
St. Blaise is the patron saint of throat maladies, and when I was a kid in Catlick school, we were marched into church on the feast day, February 3, where a priest would say an incantation as he crossed candles on our throats (thankfully not lit). I presume the comic book heroine Modesty Blaise has nothing to do with him. “Saint Blaise is often depicted holding two crossed candles in his hand, or in a cave with wild animals. He is also often shown with steel combs. The similarity of the steel combs and the wool combs made a large contribution to Saint Blaise’s leadership as the patron saint of wool combers and the wool trade.”
Today the Grand Saloon, or Klube’s Steak House, is called the Globe Tavern perhaps as a nod to the older name, as “Globe” sounds something like “Klube,” especially if you’re slurring.
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