News & Politics

Ed Koch Cracks Down on Coffee Houses!


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

November 5, 1964, Vol. X, No. 3

City Takes Tough Line Vs. Cafes

A crackdown on coffee houses in the crowded MacDougal Street area was ordered Monday night by City Corporation Counsel Leo Larkin. City action will take the form of permanent injunctions against illegal coffee houses. The first proceedings have been filed against the Poetry Cafe, 116 MacDougal Street; the Crazy Horse Cafe, 149 Bleecker Street; and Cafe Rafio, 165 Bleecker Street.

The City had been advised a year ago by Democratic District Leader Edward I. Koch to seek permanent injunctions against illegal establishments when it became clear that the owners of such coffee houses preferred to go into court and pay fines rather than change their mode of operation.

A number of South Village coffee houses violate the City’s zoning ordinances. Present zoning of the area permits only small businesses and residences. Coffee houses require special licenses which allow them to put on a limited kind of entertainment that will not disturb the residents.

The MacDougal Street Association, headed by attorney Emanuel Poplizio, was formed last year following a public meeting called by Koch. Made up of local businessmen, including coffee house owners, and residents, the association’s purpose is to establish some control over the burgeoning tourist center.

Assemblyman William F. Passannante expressed satisfaction with the City’s crackdown. “All we ask is that these establishments operate within the law.”

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