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Coffee Shop Using DOH Time Out Fashionably, Re-Lacquering Bar

In all our many, storied years, no Eater story has gripped the people as has the saga that is unfolding at Coffee Shop, as venerable a Union Square installation as there is. The first reader report of many came in on Thursday of last week; it was that the restaurant had closed for renovations. By Friday, via a baker's dozen more emails, there was a question as to whether the venue had shuttered voluntarily or it had been, like so many others, closed up by Department of Heath in their post Rat scare scramble to re-establish the agency's hygienic prowess. Saturday and Sunday brought even more outpouring of reader love and panic for the restaurant—and definitive photographic evidence that, in fact, the DOH had been by and awarded the East 16th street joint the infamous CLOSED yellow sticker. It appeared that the restaurant's claim of renovations was a cover story, a way of explaining the out-of-the-blue shuttering. But that's not the case.

Last last night, we connected with Charles Milite, one of the owners of Coffee Shop, via email. He had this to say:

Dear Eater,

I am going to give you our briefest possible summation of the events of this week. We had been planning for three months to resurface our bar, it is very difficult due to all the curves, etc. We were going to do it in phases to avoid closing, but that became impossible due to the smells of the glues and lacquers, so we closed. Shortly thereafter, the health department arrived for an inspection. In 17 years, my experience has been these inspections take about an hour or so. They always find some violations and you have 30 days to fix them and pay a fine and that's it. So when the inspector was still in the restaurant 3 hours later, we were perplexed.

In a nutshell, he closed us, and I can tell you we are all shocked and if you look at the violations they are mostly petty and have nothing to do with food or health. It is for sure a knee jerk reaction to the Taco Bell thing. Between our two executive chefs, General Manager and three hands on owners, there is over 100 years of restaurant experience, and for sure we all are looking at this and are in complete shock and disbelief. Our restaurant is absolutely clean and should never have been closed for things like no hat on the barista, and no lid on the waste paper basket in the bathroom. We look forward to seeing you guys soon.
So, in a style twist the likes of which venues with fewer models per square foot could only dream, Coffee Shop actually (kindasorta) beat the DOH to the punch and shuttered on their own. Of course, it would be more new black if they could open on their own too, but still. As of this morning, word is, "we are trying to reopen by tomorrow but nothing is set in stone yet."
· Coffee Shop Comes Clean About DOH Run-in [~E~]

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