August 21, 2019 — The Bad Boys hung there after games, toasting their championship success among adoring fans. Another group of bad boys were often on the scene as well.
After being a Metro Detroit dining and hangout staple for close to 40 years, Ginopolis’, the famous bar and rib joint in Farmington Hills, Michigan, known as an area hotspot for pro sports stars, celebrities, media personalities and mobsters to gather for a good time in the 1980s and 90s, closed its doors last week.
Johnny and Pete Ginopolis opened the place in 1982 and it quickly established itself as the restaurant and nightclub to be and be seen at in the area during the post-disco era. Playboy Magazine named Ginopolis’ one of the Top 10 single bars in America in a 1983 issue.
Ginopolis’ was the unofficial post-game meeting place for players on the Detroit Pistons in the late 1980s and early 1990s when they were winning NBA world titles and were called the “Bad Boys” for their rugged, aggressive style of play. Pistons stars Isiah Thomas, Dennis Rodman, Vinnie Johnson, James Edwards, Mark Aguirre, John Salley and Bill Lambier were patrons during that era. So was the Detroit mob’s Giacalone crew.
Detroit mafia capos Vito (Billy Jack) Giacalone and his son, Jack (Jackie the Kid) Giacalone were frequently observed eating and congregating with Pistons and other members of their crew at the establishment by FBI surveillance units. Allen (The General) Hilf, the biggest bookie in Motown at the time, kept close company with the father-son Giacalone team and would often be in their party enjoying the St. Louis-style ribs and the access to the athletes.
Hilf and the Giacalones were investigated for a point-shaving conspiracy involving more than one Pistons starter as part of their 1991 gambling bust but no charges related to the allegations of game-fixing ever materialized. Subpoenaed to appear in front of the Giacalone grand jury, Hall of Fame point guard and Pistons captain Thomas faced questions regarding suspicious check-cashing activity at a grocery store owned by a Giacalone associate and the Casino Night dice games he allegedly allowed Hilf to host in the basement of his posh Bloomfield Hills, Michigan mansion.
Thomas was never charged with any criminal behavior. Hilf died of a kidney disorder in 2014.
Billy Giacalone and his older brother Anthony (Tony Jack) Giacalone, the Motor City mob’s longtime street boss, introduced Ole’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra to Ginopolis ribs and the Chairman of the Board flipped, according to local Detroit gangland lore. The Ginopolis brothers sent special packages of ribs to Sinatra in Palm Springs, California, per an interview with the Ginopolis brothers in The Detroit Free Press that ran over the weekend. Sinatra began paling around with the Giacalone brothers on visits to Detroit in the 1950s.
The Giacalone brothers died as the prime suspects in the kidnapping and murder of labor union boss Jimmy Hoffa (disappeared from a Bloomfield Twp, Michigan restaurant’s parking lot July 30, 1975). Tony Jack died of kidney failure in 2001. Billy Jack passed away of natural causes in 2012. Jackie Giacalone, 69, replaced his uncle as street boss and is reputed to have been elevated to don status in 2014.
This article was originally posted here