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they routinely invent new policies, such as changing the terms of customer loyalty cards (in fact, I think they simply rescinded them altogether at one point).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.

6 thoughts on “Where not to go for coffee in Manhattan: M. Rohrs’ House of Fine Teas & Coffees”

  1. I love that people are treated like this in small business. How many times have i gone into a coffee shop or Starbucks and there’s not a seat to be found. What the case is 99% of the time, self important people on their Mac Books occupy everything.
    Do you need to seem important, or is it that your such a D bag that you think spending $2.50 on coffee entitles you to that seat for 6 hours? Plus your power cords running up the electric bill.
    You guys forget that the world does not revolve around “YOU”. I love my iPhone, Mac and coffee as much as anyone. What I do after 15 minutes is give my seat to the next group of people coming in. Its called consideration.

  2. Regarding your earlier Yelp review of Rohr’s note that It was closed by a restaurant inspector last Friday.

    Rohr’s (53)

    Violations from 08/06/2010 Inspection
    Tip! “Critical” violations are displayed in red.

    Violation points: 53

    Establishment Closed by DOHMH. Violations were cited in the following area(s) and those requiring immediate action were addressed.

    Sanitary Violations
    1) Cold food item held above 41º F (smoked fish and reduced oxygen packaged foods above 38 ºF) except during necessary preparation.
    2) Appropriately scaled metal stem-type thermometer or thermocouple not provided or used to evaluate temperatures of potentially hazardous foods during cooking, cooling, reheating and holding.
    3) Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas.
    4) Facility not vermin proof. Harborage or conditions conducive to attracting vermin to the premises and/or allowing vermin to exist.
    5) Other general violation.

  3. I bring friends there occasionally. It is well worth the price of the antics. It has all the characteristics of Fawlty Towers… Basil (Donald the owner), Manuel (Jose the waiter) and Polly (Sonia the waitress who recently quit in disgust). Just like DTUT was the inspiration for “Friends” (Central Perk) . This place would make an excellent restaurant reality show.

  4. Pure Irony (Loitering Recommended)

    QUICK BITE/Closter; A Coffee Shop With a Difference

    By Marge Perry

    Published: February 15, 2004 (nyt)

    For everyone who has had too many homogenized coffee drinks from too many coffee shop chains, salvation comes in the form of a funky little respite tucked in at the tail end of downtown Closter.

    Feel the tension slide off your body as you walk into this endearingly cramped and narrow space, with its black tin ceiling, mismatched stuffed chairs and walls barely visible beneath this and that (including a framed newspaper from Dec. 8, 1941, a hand-lettered sign declaring ”Loitering Recommended” and bits of salvaged architectural remnants).

    The surprise is how much more there is here than just the shabby chic charm. This relatively recent (about six years old) annex to the 108-year-old M. Rohrs’ House of Fine Teas and Coffee on East 85th Street in New York City carries the same superb special blends — the roast recipes are a carefully guarded secret — as the original store. Look closely through the big glass jars of ever-popular rugelach (apricot, raspberry, chocolate hazelnut and cinnamon raisin, 60 cents apiece or $11.20 a pound) and you will see some of the original tin coffee bins from the New York shop that are more than 100 years old.

    The intensely flavored, elegantly smooth Havana roast is one of the many coffees available daily as a fresh brewed cup ($1.33-$2.17) or as whole beans by the pound ($9.99). On alternating weekends, Hawaiian Kona and Jamaican Blue Mountain take turns as the featured brewed specials (prices range from $3 to $6 a cup).

    Local high school students have found a perfect hangout in Rohrs’, while coffee lovers travel from near and far to pick up their cup — or pound — of joe. Marge Perry

    M. Rohrs’ House of Fine Teas and Coffees, 207 Closter Dock Road, Closter; (201) 750-8400. Winter hours: Open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday to Wednesday and 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday to Saturday.

  5. I bring friends there occasionally. It is well worth the price of the antics. It has all the characteristics of Fawlty Towers… Basil (Donald the owner), Manuel (Jose the waiter) and Polly (Sonia the waitress who recently quit in disgust). Just like DTUT was the inspiration for “Friends” (Central Perk) . This place would make an excellent restaurant reality show.

  6. You are such a leaching loiterer. You “loit” all over the place. Big fat, loitering loiterer, you are. The Dork Report? More like, “The Loiterer Report!” Sheesh. (seriously, though. that place sounds lame and they deserve to go out of business.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.