Photographed by Robert Otter circa 1962

Battling the State Liquor Authority


From Life Magazine, Issue dated April 5, 1963

Brody refused to give in to what he described as demands for bribes from City agencies. As described in an account in the New York Times in 1962:

Joseph Brody, general manager of the Albert French restaurant, 42 East 11th Street, said he had told the District Attorney “every business man in New York City must pay graft - you can’t operate a restaurant or a bar if you don’t.” Mr. Brody testified last Feb. 26 at a closed hearing before the authority, listing grievances dating back to 1953. During the summer he picketed the authority’s office, calling for an investigation.

He said that in September, while picketing, he was served with a subpoena ordering him to appear at the District Attorney’s office for questioning. Mr. Brody added that he testified Sept. 14 and supplied the District Attorney with pictures as evidence of graft.

As described in an account the following year in Life magazine:

In all the history of man it has been a simple truth that corruption ends when action by an aroused citizenry begins. It is, therefore, at least encouraging to consider that in New York a few - a very few - restaurant owners did not wait for the governor to act, nor for the district attorney to act, but were brave enough or rash enough or angry enough to defend their rights as citizens by themselves. Joe Brody, Czech-born proprietor of the Albert French restaurant in Greenwich Village, is one of them.

When an S.L.A. investigator put the arm on him for a $500 bribe, Brody threw him bodily out the front door and into the street. He went further. Not too long ago he picketed the S.L. A. headquarters wearing a sandwich board which carried this legend: THE S.L.A. IS CROOKED AND CORRUPT. ARE YOU CROOKED AND CORRUPT? THE S.L.A. HAS A JOB FOR YOU! Brody estimates that his stubbornness has cost him $14,000 in attorneys’ fees. “It is worth it,” he says. “I had rather spend my entire life savings than pay one penny as a bribe. This is America. It shouldn’t happen here.”