Morning Sentinel
Coffee shop site up for sale
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Staff Writer
Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel 08/15/2009

VASSALBORO -- There's a "for sale" sign on the property where the controversial Grand View Topless Coffee Shop used to be on Route 3.

The sign went up Wednesday, according to owner Donald Crabtree, who said he's thinking of moving away from the town and is considering several out-of-state offers for the property.

Crabtree won't say he's giving up on rebuilding the topless coffee shop business in Vassalboro, which burned to the ground in a June fire ruled arson. Still, he's ready to move on if he can sell the property, he said.

"We've done all our options and pretty much all of them fell through," Crabtree said. "Everything's in the air; we're still trying a bunch of stuff out. We don't know if we're going to sell it or what. I'd like to find somebody to become somewhat of a partner in the business."

Crabtree said the commercial property, on 2.6 acres, is listed through a Century 21 office in Augusta, though he hasn't settled on an asking price. Crabtree said he paid $277,000 for the property.

Crabtree opened Grand View on Feb. 23, featuring topless waiters and waitresses serving doughnuts and coffee, drawing complaints from some residents. In response to Grand View, town voters approved an "adult-only businesses ordinance" that regulates where, when and how "sexually oriented businesses" may operate in Vassalboro.

Crabtree was living in adjoining apartments with six others -- his twin daughters, their boyfriends and their two four-month-old babies -- when the fire was set during the early morning hours of June 4. A passing ambulance crew noticed the smoke and flames and awoke Crabtree and his family.

He did not have the property insured and investigators have not identified any arson suspect or suspects.

Crabtree has vowed to rebuild the business and has been accepting donations that have so far totaled only a couple of thousand dollars.

If he can't rebuild the business, Crabtree said he may move out of state and establish the "same business in a more populated area, try to expand the business bigger, start a franchise." Crabtree is advertising for a "sales person" who must travel out of state.

"Maybe I can go somewhere where people won't look at you crooked," he said.

Scott Monroe -- 861-9253

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