Dishing with Dee: Man behind renovation of boro eatery unfairly criticized

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In last week’s column, we promised to give you the skinny on the current attacks on Joe Franco’s plans to modernize the White House Restaurant in Whitestone into a new, fabulous restaurant/catering hall. But as we started to delve into the situation, it appeared there was much more to it than met the eye. Due to the importance of the situation, we believed it would require a little more time to check everything out, which would be fair to everyone involved. Remember, the devil’s in the details.

This sounds like déjà vu all over again. On Jan. 25, 2007, Franco was being attacked while he was the concessionaire for Caffé on the Green. For those of you who never read my column or if you did read it and have forgotten about it, let me refresh your memory by reprinting some excerpts from it:

“I have considered myself a friend of Joe Franco’s for almost as many years as he had been at Caffé on the Green. I had covered many events there and have found him to be a charming gentleman who always provided excellent food and services to his many varied patrons.

“Franco, by the way, paid the Parks Department for his concession at Caffé on the Green $500,000 annually or 10 percent of the gross proceeds, whichever was greater, thereby making him one of the city’s top concessionaires. As the years, passed it didn’t seem to make much sense not to renew his concession.”

The column went on to say that the only possible reason anyone could come up was that his concession was so successful that someone else had their eye on it and tried to discredit him. Step in, grab the concession and thereby acquire all the benefits of Joe’s many years of hard work.

Nothing is impossible when it comes to money. When it comes to explanations for seemingly unfathomable situations, my favorite rule of thumb has always been follow the money.”

To try and nail the lid on the coffin, Joe’s competitors dug up some questionable statements about Joe’s uncle and brother. Apparently, Franco’s uncle, Giuseppe Accuri, was connected to the Gambinos in the 1960s. Sid Davidoff was at that time Franco’s attorney, which he still may be.

According to Davidoff, Franco’s uncle was 93 at the time and rather absent-minded.

As you all know, you can pick your friends but not your relatives. Franco’s brother Sal, who is 20 years his senior, and Joe at that time had not spoken to each other in more than 15 years. Is this a case of familial relationships rather than the usual guilt by association? All of the apparent mob mystique information was supplied by non other than Sammy “The Bull” Gravano. Now there is a creditable witness if there ever was one. All of this exchange of information from Sammy happened in 1998 and despite all of the efforts to tar Joe Franco with his family’s brush, according to Davidoff, there are no creditable allegations toward Franco. He has not even received a parking ticket.

Next week, we should have lots of interesting data for you concerning Franco’s current situation when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, all of this nonsense is dragged out, dusted off and attempted to be recycled. The answer to the question is money. But a much more interesting question is who is really behind the “rent a mob” demonstrating tactics.

Stay tuned, kiddies, as I have a feeling you’re going to love this one. This is not an unprejudiced column because I happen to like the man and consider him a friend and I do think someone is trying to give him a raw deal.

On Saturday morning, I attended a breakfast given by Julia Harrison and James Trikis and the Flushing Democratic Club at the Palace Diner in Flushing. Their guest speaker was U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, who had a lot of interesting and informative things to say. He followed that up with a question-and-answer period and the club presented Weiner with a plaque designating him an honorary member of the Flushing Democratic Club.

That’s it for this week.

I look forward to hearing from you with information on people, parties and politics or gossip. I look forward to your voicemails at 718-767-6484, faxes at 718-746-0066 and e-mails at

Don’t forget to check out the Focus on Queens page.

Till next week, Dee.

Updated 10:48 am, October 12, 2011
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