By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Jane Kelly, a longtime member of the Bay Ridge Community Council, remembers that Ed Koch was a regular at the organization’s annual President’s Luncheon during his days at City Hall.
“Oh yes, he came to our luncheon often when he was mayor,” said Kelly, a retired Catholic school teacher who has been a member of the council since the 1960s.
During the 1980s, at the height of his tenure as mayor, Koch visited Bay Ridge often, according to civic leaders. The brash mayor frequently ate at local restuarants, met often with business leaders, and held town hall events, where he often sparred with residents whose brashness matched his.
Koch, always a big, booming presence at the community council luncheon, would bound into the Bay Ridge Manor catering hall with his enormous smile and would immediately work the room, shaking hands with everyone and shouting his famous “How’m I doing?’
There was one time, however, when the food-loving mayor kept the community council members waiting at the luncheon while he checked out desserts at a local bakery.
“We were waiting by the door of the Manor to greet him when he came in, but we were standing there a long, long time. He had stopped at Jean Danet,” Kelly said, referring to a bakery located on Fifth Avenue and 76th Street, across the street from the Bay Ridge Manor. “They had made a cake that looked like City Hall and he stopped by to congratulate them.’
It wasn’t the first time Koch had visited Jean Danet, Kelly said. “I think he went there a lot. He loved their cakes,” she said.
Koch was also a regular at Nightfalls, a Third Avenue restaurant owned by his friend, Al Nahas, a Bay Ridge business leader. The mayor could eat a meal there undisturbed, said one longtime Bay Ridgeite who remembered those days.
It wasn’t just luncheon food and restaurant dishes that brought Koch to Bay Ridge, according to Kelly.
“He held a lot of town halls here. I remember one where I asked him a question about the R train. I was chairman of the council’s Traffic and Transportation Committee and at that time, many of the R train cars had no lights. People would be riding in the dark. I asked him to address this problem. A few days later, he sent me a letter promising it would be taken care of. It was,” Kelly said.
“I really liked him. He was so dynamic, so personable. He really spoke his mind,” Kelly said.