12/3/14  - More trouble for Serge Becker.  He still doesn't know how to apply for a liquor license in NYC?  Doubtful as he has a long history here, and a long history of crimes large and small in this town. Gee, why does trouble always follow this man at every one of his establishments?

10/10/12  - Aleim, from the Hebrew for, apparently, "horrifically bad reporting," published a fluff piece on Serge Becker as part of his publicist's ongoing campaign to change his image into that of humble nice-guy and community-minded father.  Aleim, a struggling newcomer, is the only kind of publication where Becker's publicist can get away with such tripe. The article, written by Shirine Saad, has no comments section because most likely no New Yorkers can be found to say something nice about Becker and Aleim knows it. La Esquina as a drug-free Disneyland? That was particularly disturbing, Shirine, given that Becker is well-known for facilitating the illegal drug trade at his establishments.  One of Becker's partners, Cordell Lochin, was an international drug smuggler sent to prison by a federal court, and Becker committed perjury by stonewalling, attempting to publicly distance himself from Lochin, and giving "untruthful testimony" during the hearings. Becker instructed his staff to engage in a systematized pattern of assault and battery of its customers, including, ironically for Mexican-themed La Esquina, a Mexican newspaper reporter.  Becker is a thug, a criminal, and the worst kind of New Yorker, who then wonders why his neighbors don't want him and his establishments darkening their doorsteps.  He needs to meet the same fate as Peter Gatien: deportation.
- Happy New Year from New York's Finest.  NYPD Leaves Offenses Unrecorded to Keep Crime Rates Down.   "Crime victims in New York sometimes struggle to persuade the police to write down what happened on an official report...Police officers, detectives and commanders cited departmental pressure to keep crime statistics low." (New York Times)

7/27/11  - Serge Becker, Night Stalker. Here’s why you pay a high end publicist a couple-grand a month. She gets you placed in publications like the New York Times Up Close section to help repair your eternally damaged reputation.

7/21/10  - Vogue editor Anna Wintour calls gangster Becker on the carpet.

5/27/10 - Cordell Lochin
  is out of the slammer and in a Brooklyn halfway house.  Maybe he's truly a changed man; anything's possible. I know first-hand that sometimes prison miracles happen.  His friends and family have even started a Cordell fan page on Facebook in a show of support, so he clearly has every intention of remaining a highly visible public figure. You're offering him his old job back as  "social connector," right Becker, because you're such an upstanding, community-minded citizen who's always there to support your rehabilitated employees? Oh right, you did a sloppy legal tapdance to try and publicly distance yourself from Lochin when he was sentenced.

5/10/10 - La Esquina Temporarily Closed Yet Again
for Violations.  Shocking.

4/28/10 - Becker's Cafe Select right across from La Esquina also raided.

10/09 - Is that Crackie Chianese, Jr. appearing nightly on the sidewalk in front of the Cooper Square Hotel at 25 Cooper Square?

9/18/08 -  Crack in the Box.  Serge Becker and company allowing coke and hookers for the filthy rich elitist clientele while abusing the workers?  Why no, these new allegations simply can't be true.  The good news:  The Box has been denied a liquor license renewal.  Good work Community Board 3 and neighborhood residents.  Keep it up.  Next stop La Esquina.  Adios, cucarachas.

5/22/08 - Night of the Living Dead.  According to carefully chosen words by Paper Magazine and a highly informed blogger,  alleged longtime drug abuser and La Esquina doorman Dominic Chianese, Jr.--the Nosferatulike ringleader of our assault, battery and menacing, the one who slapped me repeatedly, broke our camera, threatened to rape us and told us that "in the old days you would be dead"--was shot to death by a crack dealer in Florida.   Selected portions of the rumor were then revised (he's not quite dead) while the part about the crack deal remains vague. 
Is there any link between his Florida visit and Becker's La Esquina Miami?  Floridians beware. 

2/1/08 - The Devil's Errand Boy.   After his "untruthful conduct" in federal court, international drug smuggler Cordell Lochin pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import and possess illegal drugs with intent to distribute.  His sentencing in January '08 led to a 3+ year jail term.
   Read more about these cockroaches' court shenanigans.

9/19/07 - Becker and his private security force (the NYPD with its mission to serve and protect the rich)  still haven't changed a bit.  They're still up to their same old fun and games; this time with a Latino reporterIronic that the owner of a Mexican restaurant would condone the assault of a reporter from a Mexican newspaper.  La Esquina isn't a taste of old Mexico, it's a taste of Franco's Spain.

8/23/07 - Terrific News.
La Esquina Raided and Temporarily Closed.
Online gossip says it's because they don't have a Certificate of Occupancy which means they're going to have to apply to get one, which, if  NYPD would do its job, ought to be more difficult if besides leaky pipes and code violations they are also in violation of the Bouncer Act* and have a history of assault, battery, menacing and drug trafficking. Keep the pressure on the cops, your local politicians and your community board to take action against illegal, unsafe bars and unlicensed bouncers.


  visitors since 10/8/06 now know La Esquina's for losers, Serge Becker's a thug, and NYPD's a joke.

Want to find out whether the bouncer who assaulted you is a licensed security guard as the law requires?  Try here.

Click here to read a letter from Council Speaker Christine Quinn and our reply.



who was on the  premises,  saw most of this happen and did nothing; read on
and "restaurateur" James Gersten
 (who's apparently too embarrassed to be photographed or interviewed in connection with La Esquina)

and featuring Nadine Johnson as their high-end publicist
(she must  have her hands full with this bunch, eh?)

106 Kenmare Street at Lafayette Street
 New York City

Saturday night 10/7/06 around midnight.  LaEsquinaAssault@yahoo.com .

Lit cigarettes in the face.  People being dragged up flights of steps.  Assault, battery, menacing. Threats of rape.  Abu Graib?   Guantanamo?  Sing Sing?  No, it all happened to us at La Esquina.

...While his two coworkers assaulted me.
Multiple bruises to my right arm from being thrown to the floor and dragged up the stairs by two employees, a bald, muscular black bouncer and a skinny black bar back? bartender? with dredlocks.  I was wearing a long-sleeved shirt and long-sleeved pullover sweater at the time.

Washed-up actor  and confirmed crack addict

Dominic Chianese, Jr.

"I will take you around the corner and rape you like a woman.  I will rape you. I will rape you, then ignore you.  In the old days you would be dead."


Another angle of the right arm bruises.

Our crime?  Walking into La Esquina. Period.  Dominic Chianese, Jr. (who according to a posting on his message board at imdb.com has a prison record and is known for bar fights; great guy to have as your doorman, Becker! You go!) told us that right before charging out onto the sidewalk after we'd been dragged off the premises, and slapping me several times, then knocking the camera from my hands that I was using to document what had just happened.  One of the other two bouncers, the slim bitch with dreds (Cordell Lochin wannabe?), charged out of the building onto the sidewalk and flicked a lit cigarette into our faces, then sneered, "That was an accident,"  before darting back inside to hide like a coward and likely take another toot in the bathroom.  All three of these so-called "men" are Becker's wonderful employees. See how much he and they love the neighborhood?   Why is owner Serge Becker hiring criminals?  Chianese, Jr.'s alleged prison record is probably the reason he doesn't turn up on New York State's database as a licensed security guard; it's perhaps because he can't get a license).

We appreciate the coverage by animalnewyork.com, gothamist.com, gawker.com and pxthis.com because it's helping to alert the public about these jackasses (and Chianese, Jr.'s much blogged about on-the-job drug habit).  To clarify gothamist.com's story, we were not trying to sneak a camera inside to get "secret photos" of their "secret room."  We thought it was a Mexican restaurant, not a Masonic lodge; are they a bunch of 12-year-olds?  Plenty of people were coming in and out the door to the bar so it wasn't much of a secret. The guy at the cash register even told us there was a bar downstairs, we asked him before we went. He said yes, it's right over there and pointed at the door.  I  didn't take out a camera and start snapping until we were on the sidewalk.

As for Chianese, Jr.'s threat that "in the old days you would be dead,"  we can only assume he meant the good old days before a bouncer at The Falls did murder someone and the city passed the Bouncer Control Act.*  You are so cool, Dom. So cool.

The crime my partner and I committed?  Eating some Mexican food and drinking two diet sodas (yes, diet sodas, not alcohol), then checking with a waiter (again we ask, then how is it a "secret bar?") and walking down a flight of steps through an untended door to get a look at the bar before heading home.

Dominic Chianese,
Dominic Chianese, Jr.  A brilliant man.  Are he and his
cohorts licensed* security guards as the law requires?
Well, Serge Becker? It ain't a hard question to answer, so why don't you or your publicist answer it?

They assaulted us inside the bar,
then after dragging us onto the sidewalk they threatened repeated physical violence, to "kick our ass," to rape us, threw a lit cigarette in our faces,  came out of the establishment to slap me repeatedly,  then  intentionally broke my camera.    I asked one of the two bouncers, the one with the shiny bald peckerhead dome (they like the Mussolini look at La Esquina), AS THEY DRAGGED ME UP THE FLIGHT OF STEPS BY MY WRISTS (and as I offered no resistance whatsoever; how could I with a grown man dragging each arm?) if he was a licensed* NYC bouncer, and he said, "Yeah I'm licensed, asshole,"  but then refused to provide his name or show me a copy of his license.  Such men! Such amazing he-men!  Douchebag is more like it.

These so-called men, the supposed "security staff,"  then had the nerve to ask if we were "on something" for sticking around to photograph them from the sidewalk.  You know, because they're such badasses they  think they own the public sidewalk, too. Guess again, morons. 

We replied, Well, who's committed assault and battery?  Who's resorted to threats of rape and additional assault?  Who's throwing lit cigarettes into their own customers' faces and then darting back inside to hide?  Who's smacking people around?  Who's running out onto the public sidewalk breaking cameras?  Who's hurling profanities?  YOU.   YOU ARE.  And they probably think of themselves as Obama liberals even though they're working happily for Serge Becker as professional lawn jockeys, posing as stereotypical thugs just like their buddy Cordell Lochin, so all the rich white folks downstairs can have a good time, no?  Absolutely brilliant (I wonder if they joined hands and sang Kumbaya with Becker two years later in 2008 when he pretended to be a populist liberal instead of an elitist businessman in a failed attempt at winning over his neighbors).

And as it turns out they are the ones likely to be "on something" while at work given that they likely had a steady supplier in crackhead Dom and in-house drug dealer Cordell Lochin.  Speaking of which, what did the police and La Esquina's co-owner/partner/social connector/drug smuggler Cordell Lochin do?  Nothing. Read on...

la esquina

After breaking my camera they had the nerve to threaten to call the police for the crime of standing on the public sidewalk and photographing them (!) which we implored them to do.  Then a middle-aged Latino man pretending to be the "owner" came out, very calm, again said to us, "If you don't stop taking pictures I'm going to have to call the police." 

I'm standing there still taking pictures of the criminals, and I say, Sir, please call the police. If you don't, we will.   We're not leaving until we speak to the police. I took out my phone to call 911 but they beat me to the punch.

Meanwhile a man whom we now know for a fact was Cordell Lochin, a black man, stood in the crowd and accosted my sobbing nonwhite girlfriend, asking her, "Why are you doing this?  Is this what you people like to do on a Friday night, go and bother people where you're not wanted?" What an appalling embarrassment of a man is this Cordell Lochin. (Where we're not wanted?  It's a public restaurant, not a private club. )   This poor excuse for a man was actually upset that two victimized, racially mixed customers were ruining the evening for his staff of drug-addled thugs and their all-white clientele.  We're bothering people?  Dear god.   My girlfriend asked him, "How can you stand there and say that? You're a minority, too. What's wrong with you?"  He just looked stumped and stared at the sidewalk and walked away.  Unbelievable.

Yes, this violence-loving, negligent coward hid in the crowd and  let an aging kitchen manager step up and pretend to be the owner so he could dodge taking responsibility.   Our question to Mr. Lochin is,  why do his people enjoy assaulting, battering and menacing a couple on a date, and why did he do nothing to stop them?  It's clear from the many supportive emails we've received and the postings elsewhere on the Internet that we're not the only victims of Cordell Lochin and his people.  

This place has a pattern of assault and battery.  We urge you to do your own homework.

Also in fairness, kickboxing drug smuggler Lochin was described in an Observer article as a generous lover of humanity who helps the downtrodden [except for beaten-up white men and weeping Asian women].   One Observer posting about this desperate coward alleges that he once offered a couple dining at La Esquina $300 to let him have sex with them (they undertandably declined). We're surprised he didn't just ask Dominic to help him rape the couple like Dominic threatened to do to us. Words cannot describe this unspeakable piece of garbage and his La Esquina cohorts.

The cops soon came, Offiicers Wong and Gitten.  No flashing lights, no siren, very calmly.  From the outset they were condescending, and before anyone had said a word of explanation to them they sided with the bouncers.  (NY cops immediately siding with the business owner against the citizens? No way!)  We offered to take breathalyzer and any other sobriety tests but the officers declined, seeing that we were clearly not intoxicated and not posing a threat to anyone, and we were standing on public property.  But they also wouldn't take our names.  They wouldn't assist us in filing criminal charges against the bouncers.  It's as though they wanted no record that the incident had ever happened. They refused to take a complaint from us or let us fill out a report.  Why?  Who would that benefit?   Clearly it benefits the bouncers and the owner of the bar if we don't get to file criminal charges.    They also refused to check to see whether these men were licensed* bouncers and carried any ID confirming it. They  flat out refused to help us ascertain these men's names.  They were not interested in whether a crime had been committed.

They kept insisting the physical attacks and threats we described were "not an assault." Laughable.
 (literally,  "They threw me down and dragged me up a flight of steps." 
Officer Wong:  "That's not an assault."
"They threw a lit cigarette in my face."
Officer Wong: "That's not an assault."
"They threatened to rape and murder my girlfriend."
Officer Wong: "That's not an assault.")

   He told us it was a civil case (!?) if we wanted to pursue it.  We told them we did want to pursue it and asked for their assistance in documenting things and getting names and they literally turned their backs on us, Officer Wong saying, "Okay fine, you've taken your pictures, now go."  

Go from a public sidewalk?  Not wanting to point out my obvious Constitutional rights to this poor excuse for a police officer we obeyed him and walked away.  If they took a statement from Chianese, Jr., Cordell Lochin, the pretend "owner" and the other two bouncers it was after we left, after they had gotten rid of us. 

We immediately filed complaints against Officers Wong and Gitten with the Civilian Complaint Review Board.  They forwarded our complaint to NYPD's complaint division and we received a letter in summer '07 that  it was being investigated by a Lieutenant Olinto at the 5th precinct.  Perhaps this was related in some small way to their decision to raid the joint on 8/23/07. We hope so.  However, the lieutenant doing our so-called "investigation" has refused to return our phone calls 100% of the time. There was apparently no investigation whatsoever; it was complete hogwash.  So much for the CCRB.  We called Lt. Olinto and left messages three times, then resorted to mailing him two letters to find out the status of the "investigation," both of which went unanswered, and finally gave up.  Go, New York's Finest.  (Sadly their kneejerk siding with the business owner and bullying the citizen without thinking twice seems to be NYPD's ongoing norm, not the exception, as evidenced three years later in my July 2010 New York Press cover story.)

The legal definition of assault is, "A
crime that occurs when one person tries to physically harm another in a way that makes the person under attack feel immediately threatened. Actual physical contact [although there was plenty of physical contact in our case] is not necessary; threatening gestures that would alarm any reasonable person [you know, like a lit cigarette in the face] can constitute an assault."  

The legal definition of battery is, "A crime consisting of physical contact that is intended to harm someone."  This would definitely be us. 

The legal definition of third degree physical menacing in New York State is "intentionally placing or attempting to place another person in fear of death, imminent serious physical injury or physical injury."  They are guilty.

For better or worse, we came straight home and posted this on the Internet.  Are we seething mad?  You bet we are.  Wouldn't you be?  Of course you would.  Some of you will doubtless find this all amusing -- until it happens to you or someone you know.  This is not about pouting over the fact that we weren't allowed into a silly bar with a door policy. We weren't even sure we wanted to be there to begin with, and we didn't know it was a ludicrous "secret bar."  We stumbled upon it and had a quick burrito.  There was no velvet rope. We did not push past anyone to walk inside.  We did not threaten or menace the employees or the customers in any way.  We had already been welcomed into the establishment and informed by a friendly employee that there was a bar downstairs.  We finished our meal, opened a door (that plenty of other customers were also coming and going through unescorted) and walked down a flight of steps. Period. We would have been gone in sixty seconds.  This is about bouncers committing assault, battery and menacing on you and your neighbors with impunity. 

It's run by violent, twisted, self-important fools who have turned downtown Manhattan into an elitist playground.

Do what you want but remember there are tons of cool people and tons of cool places, even ones with a velvet rope,  to go to downtown.  La Esquina isn't one of them.  Give someone else your money, someone who's actually glad you came and who actually likes their neighbors.  They do not care about you and they do not care about the neighborhood. 

*In August '06 the New York City Council introduced the "Bouncer Bill" (now the law) to illegalize the hiring of a bouncer who lacks a state-issued security guard license verifying that he has undergone a background check and has no criminal record. This was already illegal but only the understaffed State Liquor Authority had the power to enforce it. In November '06 the new law went into effect allowing the city, not just the State Liquor Authority, to shut down establishments that hire bouncers who have not undergone required background checks. Violations can be reported to NYPD, the Department of Consumer Affairs or the Department of Buildings. Clubs are also required now to keep a log of which bouncers are on duty each night.   Want to find out whether a bouncer is a licensed security guard like the law requires?  Go here.

Jeffrey Stanley