Disco Night at Mar-a-Lago (and Other Tales From Palm Beach’s Private Clubs)


Down South County Road, a few blocks from Worth Avenue, stands Buccan, a restaurant that has become yet another version of a private club. Word has it that no one gets a table in any season without knowing the owner, Piper Quinn.

Mr. Quinn’s father, Tom Quinn, a partner at the Venable law firm in Washington who worked in college on John F. Kennedy’s 1960 campaign, has zipped up and down the Newport-Georgetown-Palm Beach axis for 50 years. He holds court at Buccan most nights after 8, calmly sipping his pinot grigio. Men slap his back with a little too much gusto, many pretending they are his dearest friends. He quipped: “The S&P may be down, but my bloodline to the owner means my personal stock is up 10x.”

And finally, the megillah that is Mar-a-Lago offers all of the above and more, and then even more than that. Housed in an estate built in 1926 by Marjorie Meriweather Post, a General Foods heiress, and modeled on the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, it has 118 rooms and sits on 20 acres. With its yellow and white awnings, tennis, golf, pool and beach, Mar-a-Lago is in the country club category, with an initiation fee of $200,000.

Mar-a-Lago has a far livelier nighttime aura than other clubs, and a veranda overlooking the pool with a boisterous bar on the right, even midweek. Let’s call it a country club and a dining club rolled into one. Around town, there is no general conversation about getting in, but some members qualify by saying, “The spa is to die for,” or, “I just play golf, and I’m not political.” Others stay real: “I like him, and I like the damn club!”

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