Frick’s Bid for Liquor License at New Home Pits One Time Allies Against One Another

Lots afoot on the Upper East Side from a battle by the Frick Collection to finally be able to serve liquor when it moves back to its original home on Madison and E. 70th to a new book about an overlooked Jewish heroine from the 16th century, written by a woman who grew up on the UES.

| 08 Dec 2023 | 03:14

Frick Wants to Serve Liquor: When the Frick Collection reopens the Guilded Age mansion that is its once and future home, it wants to be able to serve beer, wine and liquor in order to cash on the lucrative catering market. But some neighbors to the headquarters on Madison and E. 70th St. are objecting.

And the battle is pitting two one-time close political allies on opposite sides of the issue now playing out before Community Board 8.

There was a time when Jonathan Bing represented the 73rd Assembly District (2003-2011) and Ben Kallos was his chief of staff (2007-2009). Bing stepped down from the Assembly in 2011 when Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed him as Special Deputy Superintendent of the New York Liquidation Bureau. From 2014 to 2022, Kallos was Council Member for the 5th Council District. Term limited, he ran for Manhattan Borough President. He lost to Mark Levine.

At Community Board 8’s Street Life Committee meeting, chaired by Abraham Salcedo, Bing and Kallos appeared as adversaries. Bing, an attorney with the Greenberg Traurig law firm, was representing The Frick Collection and Hudson Yards Catering LLC in their application to the New York State Liquor Authority for Liquor Licenses. The Frick Museum has been undertaking major renovations over the past 2 1/2 years at its home located at 1 East 70th Street that plans to reopen late next year.

Kallos was representing the Block Association which opposes the license. Bing and Frick representatives presented the necessity for their liquor license application in connection with catering events at the museum. Kallos and local residents and the block association presented their objections. In making his case to the CB, Kallos accused Bing of not providing certain information. Bing bridled, denied it, and was incredulous that his former chief of staff would lie about him. Frick and the Block Association and Bing and Kallos will be working out the issues and are expected to return to January’s full board meeting. So stay tuned for more fireworks.

Once a New Yorker–Award-winning poet and author Bonni Goldberg’s debut picture book for young readers had its launch the first week of December just in time for Chanukkah. The book, Dona Gracia Saved Worlds, illustrated by Italian artist Alida Massari, introduces Dona Gracia, the extraordinary 16th century secret Jew and mighty woman, who defied kings and risked her life to ensure other secret Jews escaped to safety. When she was finally free to live openly as a Jew, Dona Gracia helped rebuild Judaism. It’s a timeless tale of identity, community and courage. Massari’s inspiration for folk traditions and ancient arts is beautifully illustrated. in the picture book.

Now living in Portland, Oregon, with her family, Bonni Goldberg was born on the Upper East Side and spent her growing up years living with her parents and sister in a Rhinelander brownstone on E. 89th St. and Lexington, several doors from where Andy Warhol lived with his mom, and three blocks from the 92nd Street YM-YWHA, now known as 92NY.

Sundays were for swimming at the Y during the school year and summers were spent at the Y’s Jewish Day Camp. When I asked Bonni for a quick recap of her fondest Yorkville childhood memories, she said, “Most of my memories are food oriented,” as she remembered “Farrell’s,” a tiny mom and pop shop on Lexington and 88th, “where they sold newspapers and candy and made the best egg creams, and Dumas bakery a couple of doors down where, to this day, I’ve never had better croissants–not even in France.” And rounding out her fond local foodie memories was breakfast with her dad at Leo’s diner on 86th, east of Lexington.

Childhood school years–from nursery through high school–were spent at New York School for Nursery Years and the now defunct Lenox School on 70th Street between Lexington and Third. Except for dad’s driving her to school after breakfast at Leo’s, she took the Lexington Ave bus to school.

Bonni said she first learned about Dona Gracia as an adult in a mother-daughter bat mitzvah class and believed that children would like to learn about this fearless woman, too. Dona Gracia Saved Worlds is a timeless tale of identity, community, and courage. Many free activities will soon be available on Bonni’s website ( Dona Gracia Saved Worlds is available in print and audio.

Bonni also wrote The Write Balance: How to Embrace Percolation, Revision & Going Public, the companion book to the best-seller Room to Write: Daily Invitations to a Writer’s Life. In addition to writing, Bonni speaks, writes, and gives workshops on writing Jewish identity, and dismantling antisemitism for children and adults.