The Friars Club used to have the distinction of being an exclusive, fun place for famous comedians and actors like Frank Sinatra, Joan Rivers, Alan King, Freddie Roman, and Jerry Lewis.
In recent years, it’s become known for teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, a current president who was convicted for recent tax fraud, overall financial mismanagement, and the departure of just about any A, B, or C List celebrity.
But now the Friars has a new association: Mob hangout. Remember last year they honored a guy named Rinaldo Nistico, who goes by the name “Ronnie Shoes” or “Ronnie Copa.” Nistico was indicted and settled a case in 2004 for assault. The NY Post reported then that Nistico had two prior arrests and convictions on weapons charges in 1990 and 1996.
Well, today Jerry Capeci’s website, Gangland News, has a neat headline:
“If It’s Thursday At The Friars Club, It Must Be Wiseguy Night”
The Ravenite and Triangle Social Clubs, like John Gotti and Vincent (Chin) Gigante, the infamous Mafia bosses who held court there during their heyday at the top of the mob heap are long gone.
But a select group of Gambino and Genovese crime family wiseguys — as well as a sprinkling of members and associates of other bourghatas — have found a new Manhattan gathering place, Gang Land has learned.
And it’s right smack in the middle of midtown Manhattan at one of the city’s most legendary watering holes.
Good work, Michael Gyure. You got out of going to jail, for this. Judge Naomi Buchwald must be so proud of her decision.
PS I was on East 55th St. the other day. The Friars Club building– a mock Tudor castle– is just hanging on in a land of steel and glass skyscrapers. It would be a shame if this place were lost to insolvency and bulldozers. But at this rate, the clock is ticking.