Move over “Soup Nazi.” New Yorkers are now cowering under the gaze of “Belligerent Bennie,” the unpredictable owner of popular Edgar’s Cafe on Amsterdam Avenue, named after the great American poet Edgar Allan Poe.
Some are even saying “Nevermore!” to the petulant proprietor — real name Joseph DiBenedetto — after he allegedly chased and banned customers who dare to dine elsewhere.
Allen Sisk, 72, an Edgar’s regular for six years, says he got the heave-ho last week after Bennie found out Sisk recently ate two doors down at the Italian restaurant Scarlatto.
A shaken Sisk told The Post he was innocently eyeing desserts at Edgar’s counter when Bennie advised, “Why don’t you go next door?”
When Sisk responded, “Really?” Bennie replied, “I don’t want you here.”
When a stunned Sisk asked, “You don’t want my business?” Benny demanded Sisk leave and pointed towards Scarlatto’s.
“I walked out and left. I felt a little humiliated,” the soft-spoken Sisk recalled. “The waitress came over and begged me to stay and ignore him. I won’t be going back.”
Sisk, a retired industrial engineer born and raised in mild Missouri, was shocked.
“This has never happened before in my life. I’d like to think I’m cordial and polite. In Missouruh we’re taught that way. … I’ve been in New York for 39 years,” he explained.
Ironically, Sisk is also a customer of another famously-brutish NY restaurateur — Al Yeganeh, the eccentric soup maker made famous by “Seinfeld.”
“I was accepted there!” Sisk said of Yeganeh, who was lampooned for his strict rules about ordering. His TV character would famously decree: “No soup for you!” to anyone who broke the rules.
When Sisk posted his Edgar’s horror story last week on NextDoor, others shared similar tales of Bennie going ballistic.
One regular likened Benny to Poe gone mad.
The longtime customer, who’s known Bennie for many years, claimed she kindly asked him if there was a problem because her party had been waiting to order for 50 minutes.
“Bennie started screaming at me (really screaming loudly) in front of all the patrons,” she posted to Google. “My partner who was sitting outside came in to see what the ruckus was. Then Bennie says in such a nasty way ‘I SEE YOU BOTH GO EAT AT THE RESTAURANT NEXT DOOR SCARLATTO.’ Then he repeats ‘ I SEE YOU EAT THERE!’ Does he punish customers who go to Scarlatto? I think he’s lost his marbles.”
A Morningside Heights woman posted on NextDoor that “on a super hot day this summer before I sat down, pondered aloud if there was any air conditioning (there was not, just fans), and he basically kicked me out!”
Sisk confessed that he will miss Edgar’s “delicious desserts,” especially the key lime pie and profiterols. “I know some people in Manhattan can be particular, but I didn’t do anything wrong. I’m sad that I don’t want to go back there.”
Lamented another NextDoor poster: “Ahhh!! I wanted to try Scarlatto but now I don’t want to get on the Edgar’s blacklist because it is one of the more reasonably priced places that actually tastes good. And they have Sancerre!”
Bennie, who refused to confirm his name, bristled at the allegations.
Responding to Sisk, he snarled, “He’s full of sh-t. He should be ashamed to come back.”
He told The Post he’s run a beloved UWS business for nearly 40 years. There are 177 reviews of Edgar’s Cafe posted on Yelp, with the average rating 3 out of 5 stars.
Some fans gushed about everything from the spinach and cheese pesto ravioli to the homemade tiramisu (“stuff that makes life worth living”).
One NextDoor poster said, “the owner has always been wonderfully kind to us and has made us feel welcome.”
“If you come to Edgar’s you have to follow the rules” Bennie said, referring to no computers and a $5 minimum.
“It’s my place I can do whatever I want.”