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Weiner Woos Local Business Owners at Columbus Avenue BID Breakfast

By Emily Frost | June 18, 2013 1:47pm
 The BID invited the mayoral candidate to speak at its annual breakfast. 
Columbus Avenue BID Hosts Anthony Weiner
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UPPER WEST SIDE — Mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner greeted dozens of local business owners  at the annual breakfast meeting of the Columbus Avenue Business Improvement District Tuesday morning.

Some 100 people packed the bright back room of Corvo Bianco, a new restaurant along Columbus Avenue at West 81st Street that's opening July 9, to hear the Democratic candidate give the keynote address.

Weiner, who was a latecomer to the mayor's race, was a bit tardy to the breakfast. But the business leaders were happy he showed up at all, considering the invitees who skipped it.

"We reached out to all the Democratic candidates and he was the only one accepted," said Barbara Adler, the BID's executive director, who pointed out that the breakfast did not equal a formal endorsement.

Weiner's sex scandal didn't come up during his speech or in the question and answer period that followed. But Don Evans, the BID's chair for its signature annual fundraiser, the New Taste of the Upper West Side, said the ex-congressman was always fiery as a lawmaker. 

"Some people criticize him for his passion — I don't get that," he said.

Speaking to a group of prominent neighborhood business owners, including Rosa Mexicano owner Doug Griebel and Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti, Weiner played to the audience by criticizing the city's policy of levying heavy fines on small businesses.

"Fines are supposed to be an enforcement mechanism, not a revenue mechanism," he said.

The annual meeting also featured reports on a fundraiser for Theodore Roosevelt Park, which brought in $27,000 and the popularity of the new Columbus Avenue streetscape, between West 76th Street and West 77th Street. 

"It's [now] a central meeting place in our area," Adler said of the revamped stretch of sidewalk that now features new plantings, trees and benches. "People stand there and wait for seats."