NYC Health Department Closes 'Hip' Union Square 'Coffee Shop'

Hiring cute wannabe actors and models won’t save your from the NYC Health Department now that they’ve enacted a new policy of actually doing their jobs. The well-known diner was closed last week for code violations. From the NewYork Sun:

Yesterday, would-be Coffee Shop diners were shocked to see their neighborhood hotspot shuttered. “I wasn’t surprised about Taco Bell, but this?” a regular patron, Ursula Pilter, 34, said. “It’s such a hip place. I just can’t believe it.”

Oh, no! Not ‘hip’ restaurants! You mean rats don’t know they’re not cool enough to hang out at the Coffee Shop? —MEGHANN MARCO

Hip’ Eatery Is Latest Closure After Rat Scandal [NY Sun]
(Photo: ViciousV)


Edit Your Comment

  1. kimdog says:

    Hip or not, they had a delicious Asian chicken salad, that I often get cravings for.

  2. tracilyns says:

    makes you wonder if that Asian chicken was really chicken though

  3. B says:

    The red velvet rope keeps all rats away.

  4. Elaine Chow says:

    You should see the hilarious note they have up in the window. I can only paraphrase, but it said something along the lines of:

    Due to the recent troubles in the NYC Health Department, it has felt the need to make an example of us. It has decided suddenly that we are no longer allowed to leave closed jars of pickled vegetables on the floor as decoration, and leave our compact flourescent bulbs uncovered in the kitchen. We will be dealing with the department’s new requirements and will reopen once everything’s up to “standard.”

    so *shrug*. Could be them just covering up for rats, but I personally doubt it.

  5. Also keep in mind that the NYC health department is doing a rigid review of all of the restaurants that the inspector who “passed” the rat taco bell did. I wouldn’t be surprised if this restaurant was on the hit list.

  6. Kenton Davis says:

    Dammit… There are those of us who went there for the eye candy. You could have fed me rat feces and – as long as there were several comely servers swishing around in heels and low-cut shirts – I wouldn’t have cared.

  7. mopar_man says:


    I can’t really comment on this restaurant since I’ve never been there but that’s a pretty funny sign.

  8. Yaotl says:

    When I walked past it last week, they just had “closed for renovation” signs everywhere and kraft paper on the windows. I never liked that place after they turned it from a seedy little coffee shop to what it is now.

  9. kimdog says:

    Here’s the link to a picture of the sign and the story on Gothamist:


  10. Sounds like someone forgot to pay off their health inspector this month.

    I’m glad they’ll be opening back up soon, though. Coffee Shop is a NY institution.

  11. matukonyc says:

    That place hasn’t been “hip” since 1993.

  12. OnoSideboard says:

    I lived next door to that place for 2 years and never once went in. But then, I’m super-unhip.

  13. Elaine Chow says:

    @kimdog: Damn! My paraphrase was pretty off. I have a horrible memory!

    I’m glad someone snapped the picture though. That really was such a hilarious message. I stood there for a minute pointing and laughing, no doubt making myself seem even less hip to the hipsters that used to frequent Coffee Shop.

  14. swalve says:

    Great sign. A bottle of pickles and uncovered lights won’t get a restaurant closed. To CLOSE a restaurant, there has to be something exigent- rats, sewage, bugs, no running water, or some kind of infection. Something like that. Seems like they’re not seeing the forest for the hipness…

  15. rocketslide says:

    Just another example of the Man sticking it to hip people.

  16. msbadkittie says:

    back in the day (early ’90s) we used to go to Coffee Shop. i liked the drinks, but hated the phony crowd. my roommate + i once got really drunk and started arguing with our wannabe waiter/model. we got so loud + obnoxious, they actually 86’d us. i didn’t really care all that much.

    although i did end up going back about a year later, but they didn’t remember that they’d permanently kicked me out.

  17. misskaz says:

    Even closed containers of food must always be stored a mimimum of 4″ above the floor. This has always been the case in every food service job I’ve ever worked. Doesn’t matter if it’s a sealed jar of olives or what.

  18. WindowSeat says:

    You can all relax, Eater says Coffee Shop re-opened at 6:15 this evening.

  19. Trai_Dep says:

    The problem was the unfortunate situation of rats wearing little Ugg booties while an inspection was occurring.

    Ugg. SO three years ago. The GALL!

  20. brooklynbs says:

    I have friends in the bar and restaurant business in NYC and I’ve been around during health inspections, You would be surprised how utterly senseless some of the “violations” they find are.

    Sanitary restaurants are important, but some of these inspectors go out of their way to find violations that have no impact on sanitation.

    While we’re on the subject, one of the rules I find utterly fascinating is that in bars that don’t serve food but do have ice machines, the bartenders need to be certified foodhandlers. If you don’t have an ice machine, no need to worry, your bartenders can still handle non-foods like lemons, limes, cherries, olives, etc. that go into drinks. Not to mention, of course, beverages.

  21. TimSPC says:

    “It’s such a hip place. I just can’t believe it.”

    Line of the year. That’s hysterical.

  22. wega says:

    I ate at this restaurant a little over a week ago on my trip there. The next day I had more than a few visits with the bathroom. I blamed their food at the time and still do.

  23. olegna says:

    This news pleases me. I used to ride my bike past the place almost every day and hated the whole ambiance of the place, which had a chilling effect on the otherwise nice Union Square area (the rich uberhip, Eurotrash and Miami Meat Factory types always seemed to clash with the normal schlubs buying stuff at the farmer’s market). Now it brings me a small pleasure to think these people may have picked up a few extra ecoli in their quest to be cool at that pseudo-retro “Diner”.

  24. john_nyc says:

    I’ve worked in the neighborhood for 10 years.

    Olegna, I’m also pleased to hear this news.

    I just wish the shutdown lasted long enough for people to forget it was there. From what I understand, hipsters are easily distracted.

    Then maybe something useful would open up… like a Dunkin Donuts.

    The worst thing to happen to the neighborhood was when they replaced the DD shop at 18th and PAS with a seemingly endless string of hip restaurants.

  25. deadlizard says:

    Update, a year later after the shutdown: my girlfriend and her brother ate at this place. Serious case of food poisoning. I just reported it to city officials.