2007_05_pennies2.jpgAfter last week's revelation that a Bronx Chinese restaurant allegedly refused a diner's payment of $2.75 when it included 10 pennies and the ensuing media spectacle, the Daily News decided to send one of its reporters to test the penny tolerance of various fast food establishments. Reporter Ethan Rouen traveled to five eateries, including Jesus Taco and McDonald's.

Rouen details the "dirty metallic reek" emanating from his hands and pitying stares from employees. But the best is when he goes to the Great Wall restaurant where the original penny meltdown occurred.

I went back to the Great Wall, where co-owner Juan Lin happily counted my 400 pennies for pork dumplings with the efficiency of a bank teller.

As she took the change, City Councilman John Liu (D-Queens) happened to show up, saying that I wasn't the first wiseguy to dump his change on Lin after the story broke.

"This is harassment," he said.

Ha! And how is John Liu always around when there's media? How?

Unfortunately, his article doesn't tackle the legalities of whether businesses can decide what kind of money to accept. But at any rate, Rouen found most establishments in poorer neighborhoods accepting of loose change. The only problem was at McDonald's, where, after Rouen spent five minutes of counting the coins for a $6.36 meal, an employee had to say, "We can't accept that, sir. We don't have the time to count it."