We need to talk about the latest Eric Adams story in The New York Times
What New Yorkers know to be true: Mayor Eric Adams has never met a function he didn’t like it. Sadly, we’re also reminded every week that the above is probably the nicest thing about him. At worst, he asked citizens concerned about a long-lasting and evolving pandemic of “go back to work; touted a crime crackdown program that sparked a spate of violence against the homeless and displaced; and sanctioned slashes on the city’s public school budget, leaving hundreds of people unceremoniously jobless. At its best, it granted us a vibrant social schedule to talk and sometimes even laugh.
There’s nothing wrong with politicians partying wholeheartedly. In fact, I prefer them, even if they’re not good at their job. But according to a New York Times story published Monday that reads like the first 45 minutes of The Batman, there are obvious patterns in Adams’ social calendar, namely that the establishment he frequents the most is owned and operated by men whose rap sheets rival those of a comic book villain. This is Gotham, after all.
For 30 nights, a team of times reporters followed the mayor as he arrived in town and quickly assumed that our “nightlife mayor” has a favorite haunt: Osteria La Baia, an Italian restaurant a stone’s throw from Radio City Music Hall that Adams has repeatedly plugged into the press. Of the 22 parties Adams spent, 14 of them involved “holding court” and lingering for hours after closing time in La Baia.
Although it is noted that the pretend vegan favors the branzino, it’s not the menu that keeps Adams coming back. Instead, it’s his friends, Robert and Zhan Petrosyants, the twin brothers who own the place. La Baia is Adam’s Cheers, only Sam the bartender is plagued with unpaid tax debts, felony convictions and as many legal setbacks as a certain former president from the Big Apple: the Petrosyant brothers, restaurateurs and friends of longtime Adams, were accused of conspiracy along with a number of other men to launder money from bogus insurance claims through shell companies. As reported by Time:
According to an indictment filed by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, Robert Petrosyants owned and operated medical billing companies that received money through bogus insurance claims and then wrote checks to front companies that claimed wrongly provide medical goods and services. Zhan Petrosyants, known as Johnny, cashed checks addressed to front companies at a Queens check cashing business in order to conceal the source and ownership of the money and avoid detection by the federal authorities, according to the indictment.
Both Petrosyants were charged in the scheme, with Robert being sentenced to six months in federal prison and Zhan serving five years of probation. According to Timethis is just one of the brothers’ dubious ventures.
The twins have a long history of bar restaurants that serve up a side of controversy. Woodland, for example, a Brooklyn spot that Adams frequented as Brooklyn borough president, lost his liquor license and closed in 2016 following several complaints of excessive noise. Their other culinary ventures have involved the brothers in a myriad of lawsuits from owners, investors and others, to the tune of “hundreds of thousands of dollars.” The Time also found that the twins sometimes failed to pay state and federal taxes. However, the Petrosyants reportedly dug pretty deep into their couch cushions for occasional campaign donations to Adams, amounting to around $4,000 since 2013.
At La Baia, Adams receives a series of guests, including his predecessor, Bill de Blasio, and, of course, former governor and alleged sexual predator Andrew Cuomo. I guess The Penguin and Carmine Falcone weren’t available?
“Of course, there’s nothing wrong with talking about city business in a restaurant,” a spokesman for the mayor said. Timenoting that Adams holds personal and professional commitments to La Baia.
Sure! There are nothing inherently blatant to talk about city business rather than branzino – other than the fact that I personally prefer to lick the silt that clots in every nook and cranny of the crumbling Metro infrastructure. What is The problem with Adams’ relationship with restaurateurs is that no one (in Adams’ office or in La Baia) could confirm whether the mayor is actually paying his undoubtedly expensive bills. It should be noted that according to the city’s Conflict of Interest Committee, public officials are advised not to accept valuable gifts offered to them.
Zero Bond, an ultra-exclusive members-only club frequented by celebrities and the kind of people Robert Pattinson’s emo Batman would surely beat, is another of Adams’ hangouts. There he met guests including Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, who are so VIP they chatted in a room accessible only via a fingerprint scanner.
Like the Petrosyants, Zero Bond owner Scott Sartiano – who was recently appointed to the Metropolitan Museum’s board by Adams himself – refused to show receipts confirming the mayor takes his own bill.
“What’s going on with the New York Times? First page of New York Times, the latest news: Eric likes to go to the restaurant — come on! the mayor moans at a press conference in response to the report on Monday. “It was a silly story. You all know it was a silly, silly story.
Personally, I don’t care that Adams likes to go to restaurants, or even clubs that scan your retina to get in. But the ethics surrounding his relationships — and how they’re obviously mutually beneficial in ways that make my stomach ache — definitely require further dissection.