Monday, October 19, 2009

"Full Body" Latte...$50,000

Chicka Latta, Cowgirls, Java Girls, Beehive Espresso, Knotty Bodies Espresso...there's even one sadly named Best Friend. I can't decide if that name is more poignant or sinister. Also, reading the reviews on Yelp, this sounds like one of the sleazier ones. One reviewer claimed that the neighborhood teens have nicknamed the Best Friend coffee stand "the slut hut."

Another reviewer said this: "Now, there is absolutely no doubt this stand is one of the sluttiest around. That's a pretty harsh word but seriously...I think I once saw one of the baristas (there's typically 2-3 on duty simultaneously) wearing pantyhose over a thong and a wifebeater at 6am in the dead of winter. Thankfully that was only once...because even as a straight male I left feeling a little disturbed."

Yikes!! That sounds grim. Another reviewer said, "Huh? What? I'm in the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store parking lot. I don't really expect to see scantily clad women in the parking lot of a Christian charity organization."

And of course there's the aptly named Grab-N-Go, which seems to have taken their name a little too literally. Stephanie pointed out that these businesses are weirdly similar to the Starbucks of the future as imagined in Idiocracy. How did Mike Judge know??

From the Seattle Times, September 24, 2009. :
Are bikini baristas in Everett showing too much skin?
EVERETT — Business was brisk just before noon Thursday at the Grab-N-Go Bikini Hut, where a lone barista, clad in a skimpy pink string bikini, served up steaming vanilla lattes and an endless supply of cheerful chitchat from behind the counter of the espresso stand.

Customers who waited patiently in pickups and SUVs seemed unaware that the stand — no larger than the master closet of a suburban tract house — has become ground zero in one of Everett's most pressing civic conundrums: What is appropriate behavior at drive-up businesses that serve coffee with a view?

The city, inundated with complaints from citizens and business owners who say the so-called "bikini baristas" expose too much skin, is considering restricting their behavior by updating its decades-old lewd-conduct ordinance.

The issue has gained even more steam now that five Grab-N-Go baristas from the Everett stand were charged this week in Everett Municipal Court with prostitution after a lengthy undercover investigation by Everett police. [Nice work if you can get it!] And Thursday, a sixth Grab-N-Go barista from a Lynnwood-area espresso stand was arraigned on an indecent-exposure charge.

Since July, a group of undercover Everett police officers has frequented the Grab-N-Go stand near Everett Mall after complaints that baristas were exposing themselves for cash or working completely nude, according to an Everett police report. The undercover officers who paid extra say the female baristas stripped naked, fondling each other and exposing themselves, according to a police report. A $20 "whip cream show" featured a barista licking whipped cream off a co-worker's groin and breast, police allege.

Baristas also charged to play "basketball," in which customers threw wadded cash, and baristas caught it in underwear or bikini bottoms, police said. The Everett City Prosecutor's office charged the women with prostitution because money was exchanged for "sex acts," said an Everett police spokesman.

The barista charged with indecent exposure, Bridget Barnhouse, 26, was seen "shaking her butt" toward traffic July 10 while outside the stand at 11323 Highway 99, court papers say. The Snohomish woman was wearing a G-string and pasties, charges allege.

Bill Wheeler, owner of the four Grab-N-Go stands in Snohomish County, called the charges "B.S." and said that he supports the six employees facing misdemeanor charges. "These are all college girls who are trying to make a living," Wheeler said. "We're a coffee stand, not a strip club." Wheeler said his employees are told when they are hired that they cannot expose themselves to customers.

Everett police spokesman Sgt. Robert Goetz said that during the past year his department has received over 40 complaints about espresso stands with baristas in bikinis or lingerie. Similar complaints have been filed with the Snohomish and King counties sheriff's offices and Lynnwood police. A public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday night on the proposed update to Everett's lewd-conduct ordinance, which would declare drive-up windows a public place, making it illegal for someone to expose their breasts and genitals.

The proposed ordinance also would better define lewd acts and spell out where specific acts are allowed. It would define a lewd act as an exposure or display of one's most personal parts; or touching, caressing or fondling of those parts; or masturbation; or sexual conduct in public.

At the Everett Grab-N-Go, the 21-year-old bikini-clad barista leaned in close to take the orders of two men in a truck and asked them if they thought it was inappropriate that women at the stand work in bikinis, pasties and lingerie. She smiled when they offered their wholehearted support. "It's all blown out of proportion," she said about the allegations. "I think they [the police] are bored, and they need something better to do."

The woman, who declined to give her name out of fear that she would lose her job, said she does not flash customers or offer whipped-cream shows. "People might find us offensive because we're sexy. But if you find sexy to be offensive, go be a nun," she said.

4 comments:

  1. Yikes. I think I'll go be a nun.

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  2. Yes, apparently that's your only option, if you disapprove of slutty coffee stands.

    Some of the reviews on Yelp are so weird...It's mostly a mix of people who are appalled plus defensive guys who are into it...but there are some guys who actually rate the quality of the COFFEE (in addition to rating the girls). It's like, "What's wrong with you??"

    Sex and coffee just seem like 2 things that don't go together!

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  3. This is all very astounding. Maybe they got the idea from the movie? Seattleites do love a good obscure film reference. But hardly anyone saw that movie. And Everett ain't Seattle.

    Mark and I were googling these places and found a news clip about the Grab 'n Go arrests that included the news station's own hidden-camera footage of a barista flashing a customer. And not just boobs, either--this was a rear, bent-over flash!!!

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  4. Whoa!!

    I know, isn't it strange? Jason & I were fascinated with the weirdness of these businesses for a while before the Grab N Go story broke, because we would see them when visiting my mom. We were like, "What the hell is up with those sexy espresso stands??" But you never read about them in newspapers.

    Jason had a good theory that they evolved over time...First, before Starbucks got so huge, the roadside espresso stand seemed like a cute business concept. Then, as Starbucks took over, they started losing more and more business. Then, one place got the idea to attract more business by adding sexy girls to their business model...And then, once that worked, more businesses opened using that model to begin with.

    It makes sense. But it's still so weird!!

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