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March 28, 2011 / Brooklyn news / Greenpoint / Brooklyn Is Angry

Liquor license fight is no Polish joke at community center

The Brooklyn Paper
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Hold the Zywiec!

A handful of Polish activists want the state to withdraw a Greenpoint cafeteria’s liquor license application because selling booze would foster alcoholism and “destroy” the eatery’s family-friendly atmosphere.

Organizer Mark Wysocki believes that the Polish Slavic Center is “sending the wrong message to the outside world” by selling alcohol.

“We cannot forget about the values that created our community,” said Wysocki. “We cannot put profit from the sale of alcohol over the impact on our community’s public health.”

But the center’s CEO, Bozena Kaminski, bristled at the campaign and ridiculed her opponents as “poor and evil people.”

“This is not a bar,” said Kaminski. “The people who are complaining about it don’t eat at the cafeteria and don’t want to participate in our activities. I don’t know why they even started this racket.”

Greenpoint has some of the highest binge-drinking rates in Brooklyn.

Between 17 and 31 percent of residents consume more than five drinks on occasion in the past month, according to the Department of Health.

That’s one reason why Wysocki and others circulated a petition demanding that the center’s license be revoked. It has about 200 signatures.

The center’s stripped down cafeteria, which closes at 7 pm and on Sundays, is a favorite of foodies and Polish immigrants who go to enjoy its homemade and affordable soups, blintzes and pierogies.

Kaminski applied in January for a license to sell beer and wine in the cafeteria — and Community Board 1 approved it a month later, But that’s when the center’s members revolted, putting pressure on the State Liquor Authority, which has the final say and is expected to weigh in next month.

The Polish Slavic Center has provided immigration and public health services to its 40,000 New York-area members since 1972 — but its leadership has long been a source of controversy for the insular Polish community.

Sources in the Polish community say the faction is mainly opposed to how Kaminski has managed the center in the past 10 years.

“It’s all politics,” said one source. “People are dissatisfied that they are not really doing any social programs for the Polish and Slavic communities.”

Opponents are even moving to dissolve the board and change the organization’s bylaws — a threat which Kaminski brushed off.

“Even if they’re not happy about getting a liquor license, how does that make any impact on what we do and what we operate?” said Kaminski. “We’re just doing this to benefit our membership that comes and have their meals and our cafeteria.”

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Reader Feedback

Kasia from Greenpoint says:
I am a long time resident of Greenpoint. I am a regular customer of the Polish & Savic Center. I have seen a picture of Mr. Mark Wysocki in a Polish newspaper, however no one has ever heard of him in Greenpoint. Who is this guy? Does he have the right restaurant? He resides in New Jersey! Is he thinking of Applebee's? I know they serve alcohol there and kids meals, why doesn't he pick a fight with them? Applebee's has been serving communities across the country, I've never seen them have a problem with a liquor license. Do we really want a man like this to have the final say in our community? Would you want an outsider to have a say in YOUR community?
March 28, 2011, 5:48 pm
Kazik from Greenpoint says:
200 signatures? Are they recovering alcoholics because there are over 2,000 residents in the commmunity alone. Why is this newsworthy? Because in my opinion, this is a lot of fuss over nothing. Mr. Wysocki is a coward for picking on members of the Polish community, because he has no courage to face the big enterprises out there that resume in selling alcohol along with food. If restaurants are wrong in selling alcohol, then Mr. Wysocki should start a probhibition. America tried it once before. What's wrong with this country, along with the world today, is people like him who try to ruin businesses.
March 28, 2011, 5:56 pm
fatimah from Cobble Hill says:
What is a Polish joke? Great headline writing, guys. Drunks get nasty and defensive when you try to cut off their booze. As witnessed by reader responses to this article.
March 29, 2011, 4:47 am
Ludwik from Greenpoint says:
Anti-Polish bigotry continues by the American press and the people who think that Polish immigrants are somehow lesser than they are. Who is anyone to judge the Greenpoint Polish immigrants drinking habits? The fact is that the Polish immigrants are mostly religious, save their earned money, are law abiding and are statistically more responsible than an average resident. How dare anyone state here that they cannot have a beer or a glass of wine with their meal? Are we to bring prohibition days again to Greenpoint because many of its residents are Polish? Defamation against Polish ethnic group continues!
March 29, 2011, 8:30 am

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