Free Coffee Lands Cigar Shop in Hot Water

A popular tobacco shop that caters to the high-end Wall Street crowd is getting cut down by city officials for doling out free java.

Barclay Rex, which counts City Hall staffers, bankers, lawyers and detectives among its smoking clientele, is being hassled about having a $9,000 coffee machine on its premises, the New  York Post reported.

Vince Nastri III, third-generation proprietor of the palace of puff, said his problems started in June when Health Department inspectors came to check up on complaints that cigar odors were wafting to the upper floors of the building at 75 Broad Street, according tot he paper..

That complaint was unfounded, but an inspector noticed the coffee machine, which customers used to make free espressos and cappuccinos, and said it was illegal.

Nastri was issued a citation, which can lead to fines between $200 and $2000, and now finds himself between a rock and a hard place. Even to give coffee away for free he needs a permit to operate as a food-service establishment, but then smoking would be banned in his shop.

"[They're] trying to take away my livelihood over a cup of coffee," Nastri complained to the Post.  "It's like the city has nothing better to do than worry about me providing my customers with coffee?"

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