Mayor Adams, the self-described “cool dude,” loves “La Movida”. That’s no secret. He even campaigned on the promise to promote NYC’s nightlife. But it seems that he has a serious favorite among his haunts. According to a reporter at The New York Times, in June alone he went out 22 times. Out of these, he visited the same upscale Manhattan restaurant 14 times. There, he holds court behind a frosted-glass partition at a private table and the restaurant stays open until he leaves — sometimes well after its official closing time.
Osteria La Baia is run by Adams’ close friends, Robert and Zhan Petrosyants — twin brothers whose businesses Adams has supported despite the brothers’ past felony convictions, outstanding tax debts and a trail of legal troubles.
At the pricey La Baia, where entrees range in price from about $30 to more than $60, Times reporters never saw him paying for his meals. In response to inquiries from the Times, a spokesperson said the mayor personally pays the bill to the restaurant monthly. But the spokesperson failed to provide receipts, and the restaurant’s operators did not respond to emails seeking any documents that would support the mayor’s claim.
If indeed the mayor has failed to pay for his meals, he could have violated the city’s ethics laws, watchdogs said. Public servants are explicitly forbidden from accepting gifts worth $50 or more from city vendors. While this rule would not apply to La Baia and the Petrosyants brothers, the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board advises public officials that as a precaution, they not accept any valuable gifts that are given to them because of their positions.
Further raising eyebrows, although Adams sometimes describes himself as a vegan, he has been greeted by a server asking if he will have “his usual”, the branzino, which would be a surprising choice if he is indeed a vegan.
While “holding court” at a public restaurant is not a violation of any rule for a public official, it’s more a question of who and where. Adams’ loyalty to La Baia stands out, as does his history of supporting the businesses run by the brothers, who pleaded guilty to felony charges in 2014 after being accused in a money-laundering scheme. They also have a long record of unpaid tax bills and lawsuits.
The 40-year-old brothers, who had previously operated businesses in Brooklyn, launched their Manhattan restaurant just weeks after the mayor was elected. Adams’ frequent appearances at, and promotion of the restaurant have boosted its reputation in nightlife columns and social media—no doubt also adding to their bottom line. After dining at La Baia’s grand opening in November, Adams went out of his way to lavishly praise the restaurant to a New York Post reporter. “It’s a great restaurant,” he told the reporter.