When Stratis Morfogen opened his first dinner in Manhattan in the 1990s, he had no plans to say one day to team member John Gotti Jr. “Go to hell.” But for the Golden Greek, fighting the mafia has become a way of life. Now the owner of Brooklyn Chop House in lower Manhattan is naming names in his new book, Be a Destroyer: Street Lessons for Entrepreneurs – From Mafia to Mandates, which will be released on Tuesday, according to the New York Post.
Morphogen opened a restaurant in Gotham City on the Upper East Side in 1993. Shortly afterwards, the Mafia made its presence known.
“I had a promotional leader, his name was Noel Ashman. One night Noel came in with a black eye, I asked “What’s up?” said Morfogen in an interview.
“Some gangster said we have to pay them every month. “Otherwise, they will hit us constantly,” Morfogen recalled. “Asman showed me some names and I knew they were Gambino’s children.”
Wise among wise
Morfogen was not naive. He grew up on Long Island in the 1970s. His family owned the Howard Beach restaurant, which was frequented by the Don Carlo Gambino mafia. Gambino threw $ 20 bills at the impatient 6-year-old Morfogen and asked him about school.
After opening his own facility, Morfogen was frequently visited by Ralph Coppola of the Genovese crime family and Bobby “Bucky” Carbone.
Coppola came so close to calling Morfogen a “nephew,” and Carbon entertained him with stories. One night, Carbone even told him the story of the first man he killed. He was at a bar during a failed debt collection.
But Gotti Jr.’s team was different.
Topic: Gangs of New York: how it really was
Gambino died on Long Island in 1976. And John Gotti ended up behind bars thanks to the testimony of Sammy “Bull” Gravano. In his absence, his son, Gotti Jr., bullied restaurants in the 1990s.
“John Gotti Jr. and his team is what they lived on. “They turned every restaurant upside down from the Upper East Side to Midtown,” Morfogen said.
Since he was new to the block, it was Morfogen’s turn to leave. At least that’s what two of Gotti Jr.’s team thought.
“I asked, ‘What do you guys want?’ reminded Morfogen. They told him: “We want $ 5,000 a month, otherwise we will break your windows every week.”
Morfogen replied: “Let me give you a quick answer: go to hell.”
Soon after, someone started spraying black paint on the table windows every night. Morfogen wiped them every morning.
Coppola noticed that this was happening and told Morfogen to sit still.
Two days later, Morfogen received a phone call from one of the Coppola guys asking him to come to the most inactive Ferrier Bistro at 10:00 p.m.
“When I got there, Ralph was there with Bucky and all of Gambino’s hood was back. “So I sat down with Ralph, Bobby and the five heads of the Gambino family.”
“Listen, this guy is with us and you tell Gotti Jr. to back off,” Ralph said. And if he does not back down, the situation will escalate. And I’m just dizzy. The children turned and said, “Well, we like this guy, he’s good. Do not worry, we will talk to the youngest “.
Morfogen simply came under the protection of the Genovese type. Carbone even threw an ice cream on the thigh of an employee who stole $ 30,000 from the restaurant. He said they never asked for anything in return: “It was a true friendship,” Morfogen said.
Our friend and new enemy
Following the success of Gotham City, Morfogen opened a club called Rouge with the tacit support of Coppola.
Everything was fantastic. The club quickly became known when New York Rangers captain Mark Messier brought in the Stanley Cup. One night, Morfogen accidentally kicked Madonna and Tupac out the door because he did not recognize them.
But it also caught the attention of West Coast mobsters who wanted to “buy” their way into the nightlife.
Once upon a time, a Jewish gangster from Los Angeles sat Morfogen in his own club and tried to make him an offer he could not refuse.
“He pulls out a pen and writes $ 10,000 on a napkin. And then he pulls out a 9mm pistol, pulls out a bullet and puts it on the table. ” He said to Morfogen: “Which will you choose: this or that?”
But Morfogen was not worried. “He did not know that the most powerful people in the world were already protecting me.”
Morfogen immediately referred the matter to Coppola and Carbona. They could not stop laughing.
“I go to the club one Saturday night at 1:00 am. “Coppola, Carbon and a Los Angeles gangster are sitting in a VIP room drinking champagne.”
Morfogen did not have fun.
Morphogen received the message. “As I was leaving, I heard Ralph say, ‘Let’s deal. I heard your offer and here is my counter-proposal “, and he took a 60 pound candle and hit him on the head. Then Bucky ran up to me to drag me out of the nightclub and put me in a taxi while this fight was going on.
“When I arrived at the Rouge nightclub the next day, there was no blood on the floor or blood on the walls. “But I noticed that the carpet in the living room was gone.”
Get out clean
Such unquestionable faith has been shown in Morfogen for years to come. He knew Coppola would always have his back. That is why he was shocked when he did not appear at his wedding in 1998.
“I noticed two empty chairs at my wedding. Ralph and his wife never showed up. I was surprised by this. Ralph was really like an uncle to me. “And I could not go a week without talking to him,” said Morfogen.
“That night, Bucky approached me and said, ‘Ralph is gone. I asked, “What do you mean?” He said, “Ralph is gone. Ask no more. “
Years later, Morfogen was informed that Coppola had gone to a meeting in Haarlem and had never left home. That’s all he knows, even now.
Coppola’s disappearance shocked him. When his silent companion left, he took it as a sign. “I really did not want to be in it anymore,” he said of mafia life.
“In 2005, I had real difficulties – I divorced, I lost my old business. And none of these guys called me to see if I needed anything. “Ralph called me every day,” he said.
But after several years and business ventures, in 2006, the mafia knocked on the door again through their Genovese partner.
The clerk came on behalf of two people who wanted to receive an envelope from Morfogen who was just getting to his feet.
The answer was the same one he gave to Gotti’s team a few years ago when he first started: “Tell them to go to hell,” Morfogen said.
“I said, ‘Don’t make me a rat.’ “I’m done with you guys.” “And they never came back and did not bother me.”