June 7, 2019 By Laura Hanrahan
The owner of the Greenpoint restaurant French Epi says her business is being unfairly slammed following the appearance of a controversial Polish nationalist at the venue Wednesday night.
Robert Winnicki, the leader of Poland’s nationalist political party, the National Movement, spoke at the restaurant Wednesday after his appearances at two catholic churches in Brooklyn were canceled, following community pushback from both residents and local officials.
French Epi owner Beata Eider, who was not at the restaurant Wednesday night, said that she had never agreed to host Winnicki for a speaking event.
She said that a reservation for 15 people had been made for that night, but there was no indication that Winnicki was part of the group. The staff soon discovered after the group arrived that many more people kept coming in.
Eider, who ran the restaurant with her husband until his death in September, said that she began getting calls on Wednesday night from her employees about Winnicki and the crowd taking over the restaurant. She instructed her employees to try to kick them out.
“They were not listening,” Eider said of the crowd. “It was really hard.”
Eider said that the organizers of the event grabbed the restaurant’s microphone, which is kept beside the bar for occasional musical performances, and gave it to Winnicki to speak.
“They were doing it like they were in their own private room,” Eider said. “They weren’t even concerned with what we say.”
Police were on the scene during the event, but Eider said she is not sure who called them.
Eider was in the process of closing the restaurant down prior to the event, since she said it is difficult to run it alone.
After the heated backlash stemming from Wednesday night’s event, Eider has shut the restaurant down for good.
“I didn’t expect I’d finish like this,” she said.