April 7, 2013

SHORTLY AFTER JOHN GOTTI HAD PAUL CASTELLANOS GUNNED DOWN...:

Steak for Two, Please, With a Side of Bribes (MICHAEL WILSON, April 5, 2013, NY Times)

Why is it always a steakhouse?

The link between corrupt politicians and steakhouses would appear to be so obvious that corrupt politicians would avoid them altogether, especially since there are apparently as many hidden microphones as shrimp cocktails at a given table. But still they come. Experts on either side of the napkin offered theories.

"They're men," said Ben Benson, the owner of the former steakhouse that bore his name. "Men go to steakhouses. The power lunches, the power dinners -- it's what the steakhouse is all about." Dim lighting, plush booths; there is an unspoken promise of discretion in a steakhouse. As Mr. Benson put it, they are "clubby." One of his restaurant's most memorable decorations was itself a reminder of a famous steakhouse crime: a large picture of the mobster Paul Castellano shot dead in front of the steakhouse Sparks in 1985. "Eat at Ben Benson's," the poster read. "It Won't Kill You."

Over at Sparks on Friday, a manager, Sal Desai, said no one would have probably noticed the federal agent enjoying two separate meetings on the same Valentine's night.

"We try to leave them alone," he said of his customers. "We are so busy. There is no more room to talk."

The former assemblyman who enjoyed the bribe-free steak at Luger, Rory I. Lancman, said choosing a steakhouse as a setting for illegal activity spoke to ego.

"Such an inflated sense of self that they think they're entitled to these ill-gotten gains, they're beyond getting caught," he said. "Maybe there's something in the steakhouse culture that makes them think they're bigger and more macho than they are. Slicker."

He added, "You never read about an envelope being passed to a politician in the front seat of a Prius or while they're having a salad at Hale and Hearty."

State Senator Liz Krueger's district in Manhattan includes many of the city's best-known steakhouses. She was game for some steakhouse psychoanalysis.

"There's this imagery in mass culture that the big powerful guys eat at steak restaurants," she said. "These guys who are under the belief they are big powerful guys, or are in a desperate attempt to prove they are, may choose steakhouses for the scenery they think it provides."


...two friends came in from Grand Rapids for New Years and wanted to eat at Sparks.  When they called and asked for a table in the non-shooting section they were hung up on. 

Posted by at April 7, 2013 7:03 PM
  

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