Durgan's Grill was a restaurant, bar, and dancehall on New York Route 86, beyond Lake Colby. It was owned by Bea and Mose LaFountain. Mose's son, Moses LaFountain, remembers seeing patients from Trudeau Sanatorium and Will Rogers Hospital arrive by horse-drawn sled. There was at one time a half-hour Saturday night radio broadcast called "Dining and Dancing at Durgan's", with Eddie Vogt as MC.
It featured live music. Effie and Jet Johnson were popular black entertainers there. Effie played piano and Jet played trumpet. They came from New York City, and later moved to Saranac Lake.
Jazz great Dizzy Gillespie and his All-Stars played Durgan's, July 5th to the 11th, 1960, and Stan Getz and Roy Haynes played Durgan's in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
It was built by Benjamin Durgan, originally as a gas station. After Durgan's Grill closed, it reopened at Muldowney's Steak House operated by Jack Muldowney in the early 1970s; later it became Club 86 in 1980, operated by Bill Jost. Its final closing came about 1992.
The building was damaged by a fire in 1996. Today (2011) it is Tissot Construction Company.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, October 22, 2016
Big Fire at Durgan's Night Club
by Howard Riley
Durgan's, LaFountain's and Muldowney's
Mr. and Mrs. Harold Durgan were the owners when I was growing up here; their daughter Joyce was a well known figure skater. The club was very popular in the 1940's . . . .
Then when Mose and Bea LaFountain bought the place it was really jumping. Bea was a great chef, the food was superb and on top of that they hired Sonny Woodley, (an incredible drummer) who headed a black jazz band, full time musicians at the Club, who lived in an apartment in the building. They [Mose and Bea] are the parents of Lorraine "Peppy" Fobare , and Red, Jim and "Faker" La Fountain.
It seemed like the roaring 20's to me when big Jack Muldowney bought the place, which by that time was Club 86. Not only great food and music but Jack was the ultimate host . . . handsome, charming and witty.
The Club was then something like Purdy's Elm Tree Inn of Keene, where if you visited and met Monty Purdy once, you would never forget him and he would never forget you.
It was the same with Jack Muldowney, he greeted all with a smile, he knew all the regulars by name and he was your friend forever. . . . His son John, [is] the attorney, his grandson, Johnny, executive director of the Saranac Lake Chamber of Commerce.
(More from this article about the fire at Club 86 in about 1976 in the Enterprise article cited.)
- Tissot, Caperton, History between the lines : women's lives and Saranac Lake customs, Jay, New York : Graphics North, 2007, pp. 348-349. ISBN 978-0-9643542-9-4.