Topless Coffee Shop Goes Up In Flames

VASSALBORO, Maine (AP) — A topless coffee shop that sparked controversy went up in flames early Wednesday, just hours after the owner talked with local officials about making the business more like a strip club.

Investigators from the state fire marshal’s office were sifting through the smoking ruins of the Grand View Topless Coffee Shop to determine what caused the blaze.

The fire was reported just before 1 a.m. by an ambulance that happened to be driving past. It took about 50 firefighters from eight communities to douse it.

Owner Donald Crabtree, who escaped unharmed along with six others, was asked if the fire seemed suspicious, coming just hours after he appeared before the town’s planning board.

“I don’t even dare to say at this time,” Crabtree said.

At the shop, waiters and waitresses without shirts served coffee and doughnuts. Crabtree had met Tuesday night with planning officials to discuss adding a disc jockey, expanding parking and extending the hours of operation.

Crabtree said he spent $277,000 buying and renovating the former motel. It wasn’t insured, he said.

The shop’s opening in February raised the ire of dozens of local residents. Someone recently called police to complain that a waitress was outside the business without a shirt. An ordinance was proposed to regulate nudity at local businesses.

While many people dropped by Wednesday morning to show support, it was clear that others were pleased about the fire, said Paul Crabtree, the owner’s brother.

“It’s sad to see people driving by and acting happy about it,” he said.

Steve Cooper, of Vassalboro, stopped to peruse the damage while passing by on his motorcycle. He had never been in the shop, but said it was a shame the fire had put people out of work.

“I don’t think the business was doing any harm,” he said.

A waitress at the shop, Krista MacIntyre, said the job was the best she’s ever had. She hopes the fire doesn’t put the shop out of business.

“We should keep on going, get back up and make it an even bigger place,” she said.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Wolfgang Location: Chocowinity,NC on Jun 5, 2009 at 01:05 PM
    I was wish they would have franchise the Topless Coffee Shop. It could have been the New McDonalds. I am going out for a cup of coffee. I just stopped drinking Whiskey at the bar.
  • by Too funny Location: Washington on Jun 5, 2009 at 05:43 AM
    The funny thing is the waitress said that was the best job she ever had! LMAO! Poor woman. I can see her right now.....probably beauty with not an ounce of brain! Places like these are disgusting anyhow. I say we get rid of all of them.
  • by whoa! on Jun 5, 2009 at 04:58 AM
    You can say it's disgusting if you please. One of the luxuries of living in the US is you have the right to your opinion. No one I assure you, would force you to frequent such an establishment. No harm was being done at the coffee shop. If you don't want to purchase your coffee and doughnuts from them, don't.It's ok. But to say you are glad the place burnt down is terrible. I agree with Paul. Why the owner didn't have his business insured is indeed a mystery. The problem with living in the bible belt is, everything that doesn't appear in the book of fiction is either disgusting or immoral.
  • by Cactus Location: Strabane on Jun 4, 2009 at 03:20 PM
    I think its disgusting also, now where do I go for coffee?
  • by J Location: Gville on Jun 4, 2009 at 06:19 AM
    Good. Im glad it burnt up. Its disgusting.
  • by Bud Location: Washington on Jun 4, 2009 at 06:12 AM
    Would you like milk with your coffee? Yes please!
  • by Cat Location: Gboro on Jun 3, 2009 at 07:12 PM
    Well, Tad you didn't keep me abreast of this one! LOL! And it starts again!
  • by Paul Location: Eastern NC on Jun 3, 2009 at 07:11 PM
    If I spent a quarter million $$$ on something, I guarantee it would have insurance. Not only did the owner have no morals, he has no business sense either. Duh.
  • by Wilma Location: roodabega, NJ on Jun 3, 2009 at 12:19 PM
    Was this the same place as the topless donut shop in Maine too? If these were separate establishments, i'm moving up to Maine!!!!
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