Mobster Angelo Lutz Opens Restaurant 'The Kitchen Consigliere' After 8 Years In Jail
Nov 01, 2013 01:27 PM EDT | By Dina Exil
The mob is stepping into the restaurant business.
According to The New York Daily News, former mobster, Angelo Lutz, has opened a new Mafia-themed restaurant thanks to crowd funding after he was refused a bank loan because of his criminal past.
Lutz eatery "The Kitchen Consigliere" in Collingswood, N.J., uses the history of crime to build it's attraction, starting with the sign outside the eatery, which echoes the logo for "The Godfather" but with a chef's hat.
A mural on one wall puts Lutz, also known as Fat Ange, at a table with famous gangsters such as John Gotti and fictional character Tony Soprano.
On some nights, Lutz serves up a special he calls Joey's Pork Chops, in honor of Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, the reputed Philadelphia-South Jersey mob boss.
The Daily News reported that the 49-year-old chef made headlines when he was one of seven men convicted in a mob trial in 2001. The government said Lutz was a bookie and debt collector for the Mafia. Lutz, who spent almost eight years in jail for racketeering, gambling and extortion charges, began working on his Italian restaurant when he was released in 2008.
Lutz's weight shot up to 400 pounds as he perfected his kitchen craft while behind bars.The night before he entered prison, he cooked for his own going-away party, leading one TV reporter to call him "the kitchen consigliere."
Once released Lutz turned to family, friends and crowd-funding site Indiegogo to increase the size of his business. Despite being denied a loan, Lutz raised around $100,000 to open new premises in New Jersey.
"I couldn't get conventional bank loans because I'm a felon. I broke the law," he said. "Shame on you forever, for life."
And although he's left his criminal past behind him, Lutz has not forgotten it entirely. He's also happy to tell customers stories from his past.
"I never considered myself a gangster. I'm not a gangster," he said. "The government considered me a gangster. The government considered me a mob associate," he said. "But what I am now is a businessman."
Lutz has worked hard to turn his life around and go legitimate, said George Anastasia, an author and former mob reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer.
"He believes in second chances, and this is his second chance," Anastasia said.
"I then served my time like a man, didn't rat, didn't snitch, you know, took the medicine that went along with when you break the law," Lutz told the Daily News from the section of his restaurant that pays tribute to Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack.
Lutz doesn't want to stop with his Collingswood restaurant. He has designs on opening franchises of his restaurant in other cities known for their gangsters, licensing products with his brand, starring in a reality TV show and starting a foundation to help other ex-prisoners become entrepreneurs.
"Redemption," he said. "That's what I'm all about now."