Brothers Salvatore and Vincent Cioffi apparently were behind gay bars in Greenwich Village from the 1950s and 1960s including the Sea Colony (for the girls) at 52 Eighth Avenue and the New Colony (for the boys) at 15 Greenwich Avenue. Indeed, Salvatore was "a constant associate" of capo Anthony Strollo a/k/a Tony Bender who oversaw the gay bar racket for his boss Vito Genovese, and was the last known person to see him alive before he disappeared in 1962 according to State Liquor Authority (SLA) intelligence.
In the early 1960s the Alcohol Tax Unit was tailing Strollo, and its surveillance log includes the following entry:
On October 13, 1961, at 2:55 am, Johnny Verra (an associate of Strollo), Mario Gigante, Thomas Eboli and other Cosa Nostra figures, were seen leaving various unidentified males in and around Matty's Town Crest Restaurant. Matty's Town Crest Rest. is alleged to be a Strollo interest, and its president, Matthew Ianniello, has in the past been observed in a "meet" with Stollo and Cioffi.
This entry from the surveillance log is quoted in a January 9, 1970 memo from SLA CEO Thomas F. Ring to Deputy Commissioner John J. Ryan concerning enforcement action against Ianniello who now had Strollo's old job and was building a gay bar empire. In addition to the countless premises in which the Genovese family had hidden interests, Iannellio held two liquor licenses through corporations in which he was a shareholder: one for Bart's Restaurant Corporation d/b/a Matty's Towncrest at 133 West 45th Street and another for Mattys West 49th St. Rest., Inc. d/b/a Forty Niner at 148 West 49th Street. In further identifying Cioffi the 1970 memo from the Ianniello file alleges the following:
The latter is Salvatore Cioffi, a constant associate of Anthony Strollo, reputed to be the last person to see Strollo alive before the latter's mysterious disappearance. Salvatore Cioffi is now an associate of Mrs. Lillyan Bicks in the brokerage business at 120 West 42nd Street, New York City.
At an unrelated SLA hearing Lillyan B. Bicks testified that she was a broker with L. B. Brokerage who "sell[s] restaurants, bars and grills and package stores." And apparently-affiliated company B. G. Bicks & Co. could provide financing, and among the entities to which B.G. Bicks sometimes later sold and assigned its negotiable instruments was Manus Trading Company of which Lester Peskin was a partner. Curiously, Peskin was an attorney for Jennie Tobin as reported by Henry Post for New York Magazine. Jennie and her husband William "Sonny" Tobin -- until the poor bastard was gunned down in 1978 -- allegedly had interests in dozens of gay bars since the 1950s as Friends of Ours previously has detailed. Lillyan Bicks also sometimes worked with Bernard Paige who had an extensive relationship with Jennie Tobin as earlier as 1966 and into the next decades. A 1969 Newsday article concerning wise guys living on Long Island identified Matty Ianniello at 10 Tredwell Drive in Old Westbury, and alleged he principally was involved with "bar infiltration" who was "a partner in a factoring firm that hold mortgages on bars." The report did not identify the factoring firm in which Iannielli allegedly was a partner, and perhaps the Genovese mobster could have been involved with several of the dozens which existed.
A bar owned by Vincent Cioffi was among the premises for which B.G. Bicks provided financing. Vincent had interests in two ventures: the Sea Colony at 52 Eighth Avenue, and Vincents W. 56th St. Rest. Corp. at 28 West 56th Street. The Sea Colony -- once boxer Jack Delaney's seafood restaurant -- is described in the 1966 book New York Unexpurgated as follows:
Diesel fraus -- bitter because they couldn't audition for the N.Y. Giants . . . others that they did and made first-string. The roughest, most ready assortment of nonpracticing women wrestlers around. Though some of their dates are very sweet, demure and ultrafeminine in spite of their crew cuts and brother's workout clothes. Dancing in the rear.
And Vincent's bar at 28 West 56th Street was characterized by the SLA as a "clip joint" at which manipulative girls made drink requests of lonely men in order to empty their wallets. Curiously, the corporate name to which the liquor license was issued -- Vincents W. 56th St. Rest. Corp. -- is crafted much like the corporate name for one of Ianniello's establishments -- Mattys West 49th St. Rest., Inc. -- by the use of the shareholder's first name, followed by the street name but not the street number at which the premise is located, and ending with the designation "Rest." and its corporate status. B.G. Bicks provided the financing for Vincent's on 28 West 56th Street, and it was located right next door to the Gold Key Club at 26 West 56th Street which was an alleged gangster hangout owned by Anthony Strollo and operated by his soldier Vincent Mauro from 1950 through 1955 as reported by Eric Ferrara in his book Manhattan Mafia Guide.
Vincent's brother Salvatore also had two liquor licenses. One was through Sal-Mas Corporation for a gay bar "Golden Nugget" later named "New Colony" at 15 Greenwich Avenue right across from the infamous Women's House of Detention (that was a correctional facility, and not a lesbian bar) at 10 Greenwich Avenue, and one through Carbo Rest. Corp. at 43 West 8th Street. Anthony Stollo allegedly had hidden interests in many nightspots along that strip including the gay Moroccan Village at 23 West 8th Street and the touristy Village Barn at 52 West 8th Street.
Vincent Cioffi fancied himself quite the trend spotter at a 1964 SLA hearing in which he declared his vision in seeking a liquor license for a new venture -- the tentative name was the Gay 80's -- in Greenwich Village:
Well, I should know, because I’ve been in the village for forty-four years and if there is an authority on the Village, it's me. You have to go with the trend.
The Cioffi family lived for decades at One Bank Street, and patriarch Vincenzo was a fruit wholesaler who operated at 10 ½ Little West Twelfth Street in the Gansevoort Market district from 1933 until his death in 1958. The fruit business passed on to daughter Rose Cioffi although Vincent worked there two days a week he told SLA authorities, and apparently continued until 1986.
Friends of Ours has been unable to unearth anything for Vincent and Salvatore Cioffi after the 1960s, and if readers have any knowledge about the brothers please leave a comment.
Further reading that may be of interest: