Pubdate: Tue, 22 Jun 1999
Source: Daily Telegraph (Australia)
Copyright: News Limited 1999

A 'Great Joint' Just For Coffee

THE Cafe Amsterdam in Kings Cross was back in business yesterday but exactly
what was on the menu remained the subject of a police investigation.

Just a day after The Sunday Telegraph alleged that it was easier to get a
bag of marijuana than a cup of coffee from the Roslyn St. cafe, the front
door was open and all patrons were welcome.

But the smoky haze that filled the small cafe came from burning incense and
the most potent drug they appeared to be selling was a short black.

The cheeky hand-painted sign declaring Cafe Amsterdam to be a "great joint"
still hung in the window while a handful of customers sat at the tables
sipping coffees.

A waitress at the cafe said yesterday she did not know anything about the
weekend report that the cafe openly sold marijuana to a Sunday Telegraph
reporter while other patrons chopped and smoked drugs. The cafe owner could
not be contacted as he was out sailing.

Cafe Amsterdam is decorated in the same style as the drug coffee shops in
the city that inspired the business's name. Posters of Amsterdam and artist
Vincent van Gogh adorn the walls, while a few ferns hang in the window.

In the tiny kitchen there's a noticeable lack of food but at least the
coffee machine seems to work.

There's little to choose from in the way of seating arrangements. Customers
can perch at small wooden tables in the darkened corners of the cafe while a
few seats offer a window view.

Not that there's much to see, just the passing parade of Kings Cross

The waitress said marijuana was definitely not on the menu yesterday. "I'm
just the waitress trying to get through my shift," she said.

A police spokesman said officers from Kings Cross station, which is about
200m away from the cafe, were investigating the illegal drug trade

He said there were a number of ongoing overt and covert operations focussing
on drug dealers and suppliers in the area.

But the spokesman said police could not elaborate.

A spokeswoman for police minister Paul Whelan was unable to comment on what
was an "operational policing matter" when asked if any steps were being
taken to shut down the business.

She said Mr Whelan had requested a report from police about the matter.

Opposition police spokesman Andrew Tink said police could use the Disorderly
Houses Act to "shut down" the coffee shop by obtaining a declaration from
the Supreme Court.

Mr Tink said a declaration could be obtained from court that a premises was
a disorderly house if there were "reasonable grounds for suspecting" drugs
were unlawfully sold or supplied.

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