Break-in closes hero strip shop

A suspicious break-in at Cousin Vinny’s Way, 2726 East Tremont Avenue, caused insurmountable damage that owner Anthony Agnello said put him out of business. - Photo by Kevin Heckman

Cousin Vinny’s Way, a Westchester Square sub shop that boasted of its nighttime transformation into a “wildly exotic and explicit, all-nude private club,” closed after a questionable break-in destroyed the establishment.

Storeowner Anthony Agnello said after receiving a distressed call from the shop’s manager on Friday, June 27, he found “No porn! Die die! Get out or we will kill you!” spray painted on the wall in what was to be his private dance room.

Vandals also broke the 2726 E. Tremont Avenue establishment’s windows, dismantled a shower at the scene and trashed the entire eatery, leaving it inoperable.

Westchester Square Merchants Association president John Bonizio said, “I went by the place and it was a wreck.”

Deeply angered by the store’s devastated state, Agnello said, “If it was a car, it’d be totaled.”

The community first learned of Agnello’s unconventional plans in a flyer distributed throughout the Square that explained “Cousin Vinny’s Little Secret” would offer “six hours of nonstop, hardcore live action from some of the most beautiful young ladies who have ever chosen to take their clothes off in public.”

Upon hearing the neighborhood’s vast distaste for his plan, Agnello placed an apology in his store window. However, he negated his own sincerity when he said, “I thought this was America, land of the free, home of the brave.”

As for the reaction to his secret strip club plan, “They made a big stink over nothing,” he explained, claiming revised plans for his back room were for simple bachelor party entertainment. “This is just a trampling on my personal freedom.”

Juan Clarke, owner of Clarke and Son Signs, said that while he’s sorry for Agnello’s loss, he’s glad the community can regain its integrity.

“Personally I think he’s an okay guy,” Clarke said, “but business wise, it wasn’t a good thing.”

Bonizio said that while he didn’t expect such a visual sign of opposition, he knew sooner or later, Agnello’s dream would die on Westchester Square.

“The lesson to be learned from the Cousin Vinny incident is that businesses and residents in this area won’t support shenanigans of this nature,” he said. “Good riddance.”

In response to allegations he masterminded the entire break-in in order to collect insurance monies, Agnello responded, “It just makes me sick that someone could say such a thing.”

In an attempt to clear his name of what he said are ridiculous suspicions, Agnello described a recent ice cream purchase that filled his freezer, a vast expense that he said took place just days before the break-in.

“If someone was going to do such a thing, why would they waste so much money,” he questioned. “If I did that then I’d be the biggest idiot on the face of the earth.”

Police Officer Mike O’Connor from the 45th Precinct said Agnello’s case is “actively being investigated,” but regardless of the outcome, not too many tears are being shed for Agnello. 

“I’m sorry it happened this way, but he has to know morally it wasn’t right for the community,” Clarke explained. “We want to enhance and uplift the Square, and that wasn’t drawing the right people.”

Unfortunately for Agnello, his future appears bleak.

“I spent all the money I had into this place,” he commented, wondering how he’s going to afford the remainder of his 10-year lease. “Now I’m just living off of my strippers.”

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