A local sandwich shop’s menu has Westchester Square residents shocked, demanding change.
While Cousin Vinny’s Way, a so-called dining delight, at 2726 East Tremont Avenue, is dishing out what owner Anthony Agnello calls the “highest quality meats,” it’s what he identifies as his “high quality females” that have community members on edge.
In an attempt to ambiguously advertise his newest venture, Agnello, 48, stated in a highly publicized flyer that in the evenings his “seemingly harmless sub shop becomes the wildly, erotic and explicit, all nude private club, Cousin Vinny’s Little Secret.”
The “secret” club, which he describes to be located in the rear, private entrance of the restaurant, boldly offers unlimited access to “live action from some of the most beautiful young ladies.”
Unfortunately for Agnello, who’s building is zoned residential with a C1-4 commercial overlay, any form of an adult establishment is not permitted.
If not already aware of this city violation, Agnello received his first authoritative warning from the officers of the 45th Precinct over the weekend.
“We did some quality-of-life enforcement that resulted in one arrest on Friday,” 45th Precinct Officer Mike O’Connor said.
Surprisingly, just three days after their visit, Agnello answered his phone, “Cousin Vinny’s gorgeous strippers.”
Agnello previously owned a Subway restaurant up the block before the corporate office pulled his franchise in May.
Local merchants, who wish to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, said the franchise cancellation came after Agnello refused to remove mobster-type décor from the establishment.
The unique decorations, including a gun on the store’s awning, are a fixture of his newest establishment and though he claims he was “disenfranchised due to politics and differences of opinion as far as marketing is concerned,” he still maintains Subway’s official advertisements, slightly obstructed by personal stickers for originality.
Subway’s corporate office was unavailable for comment.
The unexpected promise to “please” local residents comes not so conveniently during Westchester Square’s diligent revitalization efforts, an action a local official said is inexcusable.
“At a time when the local merchant community is finally coming together to spruce up the square, the last thing in the world that we need is an adult nightclub in our midst,” Councilman Jimmy Vacca said.
Local residents agree, with one stating, “There’s no way it should be in the neighborhood; it’s deplorable.”
Not only is Agnello’s new business plan under investigation, the Department of Buildings is also looking into his recent renovation that transformed the previous furniture store into a restaurant, without a single permit request on file. The most recent Certificate of Occupancy for the space is dated 1966.
The building’s owners, Sequoia Property Management, didn’t return calls as of press time.
“This store owner’s actions are not only despicable, they’re illegal, and I’ll be working with every relevant agency, from the police to the Buildings Department, to make sure this club never opens and that this location doesn’t stand in the way of all the hard work being done by the local community,” Vacca said.
Though Agnello’s unconventional business practices continue to surprise neighborhood vendors, he claims he’s been “a leader in the erotic arts for over 15 years.”
While his leadership remains in question, his involvement is indisputable. In October of 2003, Agnello was arrested for promoting prostitution in the third degree. At the time, he was the owner/operator of the World Famous Cousin Vinny’s Gorgeous Strippers in Tarrytown, New York.
Agnello was also cited in the highly publicized Chappaqua, New York event where investment banker Robert Wein and his wife, Rochelle, hired a stripper for their high school son’s football party. The entertainer worked for “Uncle Vinny” at Gorgeous Strippers Plus.
While many local merchants are angered by Agnello’s club attempt, one simply stated, “He’s just crazy.”
Agnello said that while he may have to tone down his efforts, he still has plans for Cousin Vinny’s Way, stating, “We’re just going to use it as a private bachelor party room.”