Violent crime and restaurants often seem to go together, and the last few days has seen a small rennaisance of that trend in the news. On Friday, the owner of Brooklyn's famed Lucali pizzeria was stabbed in a possible mob attack. Today the New York Times points out the role of restaurants and food in the ongoing federal testimony of Bonanno family boss Joseph "Big Joey" Massino, in the murder trial of Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano.
The Times makes reference to some of the famed mob hits that have gone down in New York restaurants over the years -- "Carmine Galante, a cigar still in his mouth, was shot dead on the patio at Joe & Mary, a restaurant in Brooklyn; Joey Gallo was killed in a fusillade in Umberto’s Clam House as he bolted for the door, only to die on a Little Italy street; and Paul Castellano was gunned down at rush hour amid Christmas shoppers outside in Midtown Manhattan" -- but there have been a lot of major crimes, many of them gang-related, in restaurants throughout the country. Here are a few of note that you may (or may not) have forgotten.
The Golden Dragon massacre, San Francisco: At 2:40 a.m. on Sept. 4, 1977, three members of the Chinatown gang the Joe Boys walked into the Golden Dragon restaurant and opened fire on the crowd. They killed five people, including two tourists, and injured 11. The attack turned out to be a botched assassination attempt against members of the Hop Sing gang, which the Joe Boys had been feuding with over the sale and distribution of illegal fireworks. The Hop Sing were there, but didn't get hit.
The Hot Spot Cafe killing, Los Angeles: This quadruple murder went down in broad daylight on April 3, 2010, when a single gunman shot four men at 4:30 p.m. at North Hollywood's Hot Spot Cafe, "which bills itself as a Mediterranean restaurant but which neighbors described as often oddly empty." The shootings happened days after a gangland-style murder in the nearby Little Armenia neighborhood, and while police didn't link the two crimes specifically, they did associate the shootinig with Armenian gangs.
Rao's Heckler Shooting, Manhattan: On Dec. 22, 2003, a neighborhood old-timer named Louie Lump Lump (Louis Barone, to the cops) shot a heckler who had complained about the singer. The restaurant had been a hot destination for downtown types who wanted a "patina" of danger, but Louie Lump Lump, who had ties tothe Mafia but wasn't made, was a regular. He told police he had brought the gun that night because of the orange-level terror alert.
The Fast Food Killer, Nashville: Not gang-related, but entirely focused on restaurants, Paul Dennis Reid's crime spree through metropolitan Nashville got him labeled a serial killer after he killed a total of seven people at three fast food restaurants in 1997. The attacks, which ranged from a botched robbery to a kidnapping and murder, targeted employees at a Captain D's, a McDonald's and a Baskin Robbins either after closing or before opening.
There are plenty more, and more well-known, instances of major violence (gangland and otherwise) at restaurants throughout the country. Feel free to add those that fascinate you in the comments.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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