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Part of Ceiling Collapses on Customers in Downtown Starbucks

By  Emily Frost and Ben Fractenberg | August 7, 2013 2:36pm 

 Debris from ceiling paneling fell on two customers at a Starbucks at 291 Broadway after a worker installing an AC unit lost his footing, Aug. 7, 2013.
Starbucks Ceiling Collapse
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DOWNTOWN — A few Starbucks customers in downtown Manhattan got some falling debris with their lattes Wednesday afternoon.

Part of the ceiling of the café at Broadway and Reade Street collapsed when a worker's foot slipped while installing an AC unit, tearing through the paneled tiles a little after 1 p.m., according to witnesses and a DNAinfo reporter who was working in the Starbucks. 

"The ceiling fell on my head. I was pretty lucky because a big piece of machinery almost fell on my head," said lawyer Martin Rubenstein. "What would have been appropriate is to have closed off the area [while they were installing the AC unit]. People are working right on top of a drop-ceiling."

Panel debris fell on at least two customers, but luckily none of the AC unit became detached, according to witnesses. 

Starbucks employees did not immediately close off the area and only started to clear it by 1:30 p.m., witnesses said.

The owner of the company installing the unit said workers were "under pressure" to get the store's AC running.

There was no air conditioning in the location, which was being cooled by fans Wednesday, said Tony Zarra, the owner of High Performance Cooling.

"When we rush a job this is what happens," added Zarra, who said his employees had been working to install the AC since 3 a.m.

"I can't do miracles," said Zarra. "It's my fault and I'm sorry… I'm sick. It's horrible."

Starbucks' public relations and the Department of Buildings did not immediately return calls for comment.