Opened in 1933, founded by an American from San Francisco named Robert. E. Quinn.
It was originally an ice cream parlor located on the Quai du commerce facing the harbor, but later became a notorious bar.
Considered pre-tiki, although it did have tiki poles on the front entrance which can be observed in some photos.
From 1941-1952, Eddie Lund, the musician and composer was manager, before Marcelle Quinn and Bouzou Frogier (both well-known musicians) regained control.
For legions of visitors, Quinn’s was Tahiti. It was the watering hole of dope heads and derelicts, French sailors, French Legionnaires, runaway husbands and shiploads and jet-loads of travelers who came to see where the action was. Beer bottles were heaved by its habitues: Susie No Pants, Vili Vala and dozens of other colorful characters. Without question, Quinn’s was the dirtiest, stinkiest, most shameful and beloved bar in all of French Polynesia. Paint peeling off the ceiling fell into the customers’ drinks. Nothing was ever repaired. Whatever broke was tossed out--or ignored altogether.
Quinn’s roared night and day. It was a bamboo jungle, a habit, a drug, a curse, with the most wicked reputation in French Polynesia. Fights broke out regularly. Women battled women--biting, clawing, scratching, cursing. The band played on while tourists crouched at ringside tables or watched from the relative safety of booths in the background. It wasn’t merely the fighting or the marathon drinking that gave Quinn’s its reputation. There was the communal rest- room, a boy-girl facility that was separated from the bar by a flimsy piece of cloth. More than one unsuspecting vahine ran out screaming after having had the wits scared out of her by some big, happy-go-lucky Tahitian who stumbled in, flashing a broad grin.
Quinn’s regulars would fill the pages of an X-rated novel. The place didn’t have a thread of a conscience. It was a grimy, crowded waterfront joint, permeated by the odors of stale beer and disinfectant, too much cigarette smoke and too little fresh air.
As the most notorious bar in French Polynesia, Quinn's was where the painter Leeteg belted one too many one night, then climbed aboard his moped and spun off on a trip to eternity, colliding head-on with a tree.
When they tore down Quinn's it was like disassembling the Eiffel Tower. Or uprooting the cable cars in San Francisco. Quinn's was a tourist attraction, an institution, the watering hole of Tahitians and tourists, French sailors and foreign legionnaires.
Nearly every tourist who ever set foot in Papeete rushed headlong to Quinn's to kick back and join the wicked who made Quinn's their home base. Well, the timorous did a detour, maybe, but the adventurous were fascinated with the motley crowd that kept the cash register ringing.
Without a doubt, Quinn's was the most shameful bar in the entire Pacific.
It closed in 1973.
*NOTE: Not to be confused with a later Quinn's at the Sheraton Hotel Tahiti (2000-2009) that was much more civilized and upscale. The Sheraton Hotel Tahiti was first opened in 1960 as the Hotel Tahiti, then completely demolished in 1997 and rebuilt in July 1999 with Polynesian-style architecture, including thatched roofs. This would probably have been when they added their "Quinn's" sign and changed the name of their bar to capitalize on the mystique of the original Quinn's bar. This second Quinn's is also now long gone. Today, as of 2021, Hilton has turned this location into a totally newly imagined resort.