Where not to go for coffee in Manhattan: M. Rohrs’ House of Fine Teas & Coffees

M. Rohrs' House of Fine Teas & Coffees

 

M. Rohrs’ House of Fine Teas & Coffees has a complete and utter contempt of their paying customers, and has lost my business, forever. Yesterday afternoon, they kicked out myself and every other single customer, citing a new policy that accused us all of “loitering.” I am not making this up.

M. Rohrs is one of the last remaining coffee houses on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. As others have noted on Yelp, they routinely invent new policies, such as changing the terms of customer loyalty cards (in fact, I think they simply rescinded them altogether at one point). Until the very recent past, any customers that wished to sit down after 7PM must have ordered at least $10 from the menu. That policy was not entirely unreasonable, but it was unfeasible. M. Rohrs is not a restaurant, and it is actually difficult to spend more than $10 at a coffee house. But as of yesterday at least, that requirement has now expanded to all hours, every day. It’s also worth noting that the new policy did not seem to specify a dollar amount, so I suppose they can arbitrarily eject anybody they deem to have spent too little.

Here’s what happened yesterday afternoon at about 4-5PM: I bought a coffee and muffin, tipped, and sat down. About 10 minutes later, the volume of the music suddenly got VERY LOUD (painfully, distractingly so) for no apparent reason. Then one of their employees visited every customer in turn and presented us with a long-worded sign explaining their new seating policy, which used the word “loiter” several times. I don’t think this employee speaks English as a first language, so there was no opportunity to discuss it with him, even if the music had not been deafening. He was not apologetic. Every single customer in the store at that time had only purchased coffee and pastries, so we all had to leave. There were only about a half-dozen customers at the time, so the management can’t claim that we were hogging seats from hypothetical meal-eating customers (of which there were none). If the new policy had been posted up front when I placed my order, I did not see it.

I used to like to go to M. Rohrs occasionally, sometimes for a sandwich or sometimes just coffee. I would usually sit and work or just read for about an hour or two, which I don’t think is unreasonable at any coffee shop, Starbucks not excluded. All the other negative comments on Yelp are true; the service is often rude and neglectful (I once had them completely forget to make my sandwich – but at least they apologized), and they charge for wireless access and for electricity. Worse is their attitude; it would be one thing to simply charge people to plug in their laptops, but the signs plastered about the place couch it in terms of “theft of utilities,” essentially accusing customers of criminal behavior. After the closing of the vastly superior coffee shop DTUT a few years ago, M. Rohrs is pretty much the only place of its type in the neighborhood, so I used to patronize it anyway. No more.

The word “loitering,” as any literate person should know, has criminal connotations, and I suspect the management of M. Rohrs knows this. I deeply, deeply resent being called a “loiterer” despite having paid (and tipped!) for coffee and a pastry. Upon leaving for the last time, I only regretted not demanding my tip back.

Perhaps they intend to transition away from being a coffee house into a restaurant with a take-out coffee bar. If so, they will have to hire more staff, improve the speed and accuracy of their service, toss out the couches, and stop accusing their paying customers of criminal behavior. Good luck with that. If anyone associated with the establishment happens to read this, I invite you to please comment below. I would love to hear your justifications. I signed up for Yelp for the sole purpose of posting a copy of this review, and I sincerely hope lots of potential customers read it.

So that you know where not to go get your coffee, M. Rohrs’ House of Fine Teas & Coffees is located in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, at 310 East 86th Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenues.