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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Topless Coffee Shop that Faced Fury of Small Town is Forced to Close

Sulaiman Kamal | 3:32 AM | | | | | | | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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 A coffee shop with topless waitresses, which has caused a storm of protest in a small town, has been forced to close after it put up a ‘boobies wanted’ sign.


Grand View Topless Coffee Shop in Vassalboro, Maine, hit the headlines when it opened in 2009, offering to serve customers semi-nude. And despite a wave of protest from local campaigners in its home town of fewer than 5,000 people – and one high profile arson attack – the shop had until now, managed to keep business going.
But the controversial store’s topless waitresses will finally have to get dressed and leave after town officials ruled that it has been putting up signs illegally. Bosses insist the order has nothing to do with the shop’s nudity policy – or the fact that the signs offered a topless car wash and advertised: ‘Boobies wanted’. They say simply putting up the new signs without permission violated zoning rules. Donald Crabtree, the owner of Grand View Coffee Shop, which uses topless male and female waiters, said he had given up after fighting to exist for two years. ‘I wanted to have some fun; I wanted to see people smile,’ he told local paper the Maine Morning Sentinel. ‘I started the topless coffee shop to do that, and it did. But now my smile’s gone.
‘I’ve fought that fight for more than two years now and no matter how hard I try to make this work, somebody sabotages me.’ ‘These people are bound and determined to shut you down. I’m singled out, but I’m just trying to make a living like everyone else.’ The shop opened in 2009 to a storm of protest from its rural community and prompted Vassalboro and many other communities to bring in rules to regulate where and when sexually oriented businesses could operate. A few months later, in June 2009, the store’s original location was burnt to the ground. The man charged for being responsible for the arson, Raymond Bellavance Jr., who was in a relationship with one of the waitresses, is still awaiting trial.
Crabtree, 43, who has since run the business from a trailer, finally decided to close down after he was forced to take down the nude car wash and ‘boobies wanted’ signs. The town’s code officer had given him a week to remove them or face legal action. The local Reverend, Steve Rogers ,of the Vassalboro Baptist Church, said he was glad the ‘upsetting’ business was to close. He said: ‘I hate to see a business disappear, but that’s really not the type of business Vassalboro needs.  ’It’s had an effect on the community and upset people. I think the majority of the town is going to be very pleased it’s shutting down and hopefully whoever buys it will run a more family-friendly business.’ Others were not so pleased. Regular customer Herman Jellison, 47, of Whitefield, said he will miss the shop. ‘I don’t blame him,’ Jellison said of Crabtree. ‘This town’s been harassing him since he’s been here. People really need to mind their own business.’

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