One would assume a priest in a nightclub would create some buzz. And if he happens to order the Dom Perignon Methuselah, drop at least $25,000 in a single night and tip servers $5,000, he’s also good for the bottom line. But what if your biggest spender is also your most volatile client? Management at Greenhouse, the first “eco-friendly club” in lower Manhattan, is currently asking themselves that question.
The backstory: Gregory Malia, a former Episcopalian priest from Bethlehem, Pa., would turn up — occasionally sporting his clerical collar — in the wee hours of the morning at Pink Elephant, Citrine and Mr. West, drop a Black AmEx card and buy out the club’s reserve of Cristal, Dom Perignon Rose and more. Quickly, the NY Daily News caught wind, and in 2009, the paper highlighted the partying priest’s crazed nights, leading to his defrocking by the diocese.
Photo Credit: NY Daily News
Malia hasn’t escaped the media spotlight since. He was arrested last July for pulling a loaded handgun on his own daughters at a Pennsylvania bar, and a month later, the state’s attorney general’s Insurance Fraud Division seized every file from Malia’s healthcare business — his listed source of income. The raid was due to numerous reports of alleged improper billing, which may explain how a priest had a Black AmEx at all.
It had been a while since Malia was seen in a NYC nightclub, but he’s recently resurfaced at Greenhouse, acting more outlandish than ever. Sitting upstairs in the VIP area, Malia “orders multiple bottles of Cristal, takes the full bottles and deliberately throws them as hard as he can over the balcony to the floor downstairs. He laughs maniacally the whole time, especially when the bottles break, soaking everyone. He seems to think it’s the new version of spraying the crowd,” one witness tells Nightclub Confidential. “But this isn’t holy water; it’s $1,000-a-bottle Champagne. He looks like a total fool.”
Moreover, when patrons tried to complain and approach the fired Father to ask him to stop showering them with shards of glass, security prevented them from accessing Malia, who was in the midst of tossing more bottles. Greenhouse owner Jon Bakhshi, who was unable to be reached for comment, now has to weigh the safety of his crowd and the image of his club against his bottom line.
“Jon needs to shut this guy down. He’s bad news. If you know a guy got arrested for pulling a gun in another club, why would you let him into yours?” says a top NYC operator who asked not to be identified. “We banned him from our establishment, even though that means forgoing thousands of dollars. His presence means your night goes from red to black [in the books] immediately, but it also means your reputation is shot. It’s like having Lindsay Lohan in your venue: completely undesirable. The status quo can’t stay this way for much longer,” muses the operator. “Eventually, Malia could end up hurting someone and they could be facing a serious lawsuit.”