The saloon served as a mob headquarters from 1957 until early 1979. The saloon was long used as an informal headquarters by Paul Vario, whom the New York Times described as "a capo in the Antonio 'Tony Ducks' Corallo crime family." The robbery of Lufthansa's secure freight storage at the Air Cargo Center on December 11, 1978, had its genesis in the lounge when Lufthansa freight supervisor Louis Werner described to the assembled mob-connected customers how a fortune in valuable freight could be stolen despite Lufthansa's security, described as "impregnable". An estimated $5 million in currency and $875,000 in jewels were stolen in that robbery, described at the time as the "largest cash robbery ever committed on American soil."
According to Lucchese crime family associate Henry Hill, multiple mob victims were buried at the bar, describing it as Burke's private cemetery. In his book A Goodfella's Guide to New York, Hill wrote of the bar,
Jimmy buried over a dozen bodies, including Dominick "Remo" Cersani and Michael "Spider" Gianco, under the bocce courts. If you go there today and look down the left side of the building, you'll see piles of dirt. After I went into the program, Jimmy had the feds and media over to witness the courts being dug up.…
Under the club, in the basement, was another graveyard for wiseguys. A human leg bone and a portion of a human shoulder bone were excavated from the basement of the lounge on June 6, 1980. The bones were thought to have been those of two of James Burke's associates, Thomas DeSimone and Martin Krugman, who went missing a short time after the Lufthansa robbery.