Loitering near Dunkin’ Donuts prevented
Published: Monday, March 4, 2013
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 21:04
On an unusually warm morning last week, sophomore Matt McConville and a friend were each enjoying a cup of coffee while sitting at a picnic table outside of Main Street’s Dunkin’ Donuts location.
Although there were no loiterers sitting outside at the time, he said he thinks their presence might deter some students from stopping by for a cup of coffee or a donut.
“For people that don’t have a preference or don’t drink coffee as often, it’s definitely going to turn them away,” McConville said.
McConville and other students are starting to see a decrease in loitering at Dunkin’ Donuts, however, after Dunkin’ General Manager Arshid Khan put up a sign that reads “No Loitering” on the inside of the right window.
Khan said they had noticed that the presence of trespassers was hurting their business. Customers were more likely to pass by the shop without stopping while employees felt uncomfortable coming and leaving to and from their shifts.
“The problem is all of Newark’s homeless come to sleep in Dunkin’ Donuts all night,” Khan said. “The customers don’t want to come in.”
After talking to the Newark police, however, Khan found that the only way he and his staff could get help in handling the situation was by putting up a sign. The police can then take legal action.
He just wants the police to ask them to leave, he said.
“We don’t want any kind of punishment for them,” he said. “We just want to keep our business.”
Cpl. James Spadola of the Newark Police Department stated in an email message that once a sign is placed in the window of a business, the police can take whatever action the business owner prefers.
The largest penalty the police can give for loitering, which is technically defined as trespassing when it is in or outside of a private business, is a 30-day jail sentence, he said.
“Generally speaking, the person will be warned not to come back—if that’s what the business owner wants—and if they do come back tomorrow or next month, they will be arrested for trespassing,” Spadola said. “If they refuse to leave after a police officer lawfully tells them to do so the first time though, they would be arrested for trespassing on the spot.”
Homegrown Café Manager John Holmes, 28, said he and his staff have also seen a problem with numerous loiterers sitting on the deck outside of their restaurant.
He said after a loiterer will “scrounge up some change” to buy a cheap beer, he or she will “sit out on the deck and play guitar” for the rest of the day. He said he is unsure of how to handle the situation, however, since the loiterers are technically paying customers.
“It’s sad, but, at the same time, we have a lot of families coming here and walk by them,” Holmes said. “And I know they think twice.”
Holmes said even his regular customers can sometimes be unsettled by the loiterers’ presence outside, though they typically see it more during the summer months.
“I get a lot of, ‘What’s the deal with this guy?’” Holmes said. “People are noticing it.”
The restaurant is still in the process of finding out what actions they can take, he said.
Junior Victoria Zorovich, a regular customer of Dunkin’ Donuts’ Main Street location, said she has recently noticed a decline in trespassers outside of the restaurant. She was glad to hear about the time limit for paying customers, too.
She said she noticed many loiterers tend to sit at a table for an extended period of time and use the bathroom to clean themselves off.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a deterrent, but it’s definitely a distraction when they’re here for hours on end,” Zorovich said.
Sophomore Marissa Elias said she feels uncomfortable entering the establishment or dispensing money from the ATM outside of the business when she notices people sitting outside.
“If it’s not really crowded in the morning, you think twice, ‘Should I walk past them to go in the door?’” Elias said.
McConville said he thinks the people sitting outside of the restaurant make many people feel unsettled to the point of not entering the establishment.
Despite some customers’ reluctance, he thinks many of Dunkin’ Donuts customers are willing to deal with the momentary discomfort to get their favorite cup of coffee.
“People who like Dunkin’ love Dunkin’,” McConville said. “If you’re dedicated, you’re still going to come.”
Sophomore Danielle Russo was sitting outside across from McConville while enjoying her coffee.
She said as a regular Dunkin’ Donuts customer, she would like to start sitting outside more often once the weather starts getting warmer, but she is not so sure she should due to the history of loiterers sitting outside of the restaurant.
“If I was by myself, I wouldn’t sit out here,” Russo said.