With their glowing lanterns, steaming coffee and warming pies and saveloys, coffee stalls attracted night owls in need of sustenance. Police complained they were also a magnet for thieves, prostitutes and drunks – stall holders sometimes laced their coffee with brandy or whisky for an extra charge. Consequently coffee stall owners had to prove they were of good character before they were granted a licence to trade.
This 1915 letter from the applicant Joseph Doherty for a pie and coffee stall in central Wellington stresses he would not supply refreshments to drunk customers.
23 Duncan St
20 April 1915
I beg to apply to the city council for permit to run a Pie and coffee stall at the corner of Hunter or Mercer St + Lambton quay, between the hours of 8 20 pm and 2 am
If the council grant my request I promise to conduct the place on select lines, anyone under the influence of drink will not be supplied with refreshments at the stall.
I Remain yours very Respectfully
P/S Satisfactory references will be forwarded if required.
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