Coffee Houses 1, Police 0


Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives.

December 28, 1961, Vol. VII, No. 10

Coffee Houses ‘Victorious’

By J.R. Goddard

Greenwich Village’s entertainment-type coffee houses last week welcomed a new law which defines the establishments, provides them with special licensing, and removes the threat of continued costly fines for operating “cabarets without a license.”

The law came after years of court disputes in which the coffee houses claimed they were not cabarets while the police insisted they were. Passed by both the City Council and the Board of estimate last week, the law resulted from Coffee House Association recommendations and an investigation by the Mayor’s office.

Rick Allmen, owner of the Village’s Cafe Bizarre and president of the Coffee House Association, was elated about the new law. “The City Council and the Board of Estimate are to be commended for their quick action. Also Mayor Wagner deserves special thanks for originally recommending a change in the laws.”

Owners of several other coffee houses not represented by the Coffee House Association proved less than enthusiastic, however. Although their establishments do not provide regular entertainment and presumably are not affected by the law, on Saturday they issued a joint statement criticizing it. Tom Ziegler, owner of the Cafe Figaro, and former officer of the association who later left it, told the Voice: “This law is a deliberate calculation to control coffee houses. Gradually it will broaden out to include all kinds of coffee houses.”

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 19, 2009


Archive Highlights