Double shot of bikini-barista laws is brewing
November 16, 2009 · 5:41 PM
Call it a tale of two espresso stands.
Well, actually three.
Outside Bothell’s Beehive Espresso on Northeast Bothell Way, a sign announces “sexy fun.”
Inside the small business, barista and manager Grace O’Byrne has on a skimpy bikini top and a pair of short shorts. She is unapologetic about how she conducts business.
“We’re not forced to do this, we’re not exploited ... We’re not doing anything illegal,” she said, adding she has a large, loyal customer base with whom she has a lot of fun. Her basic contention is, she is dressed like a pretty girl at a beach.
And according to Amber Streitler, that is just the problem. Owner of Dolce Vita, just a few blocks further down Bothell Way, the sign out in front of Streitler’s espresso stand announces it as “family friendly.”
“Silly girls ... bikinis are for the beach,” the sign continues.
Streitler doesn’t mince words when it comes to her dislike for stands such as Beehive or the Friends Espresso booth in Kenmore.
“What don’t I like about it? Where do I start?” she said. “You take away the coffee stand and it’s kind of like a (prostitute) standing on the side of the road.”
O’Byrne rolls her eyes at the suggestion, saying she has no interaction with Beehive’s customers beyond making coffee. Still, not surprisingly, Streitler is not alone in thinking the barista costumes at Beehive and similar stands go too far.
Reacting to complaints and, eventually arrests, connected to alleged improprieties at a stand in Everett, the Snohomish County Council is considering two ordinances that would crack down on bikini barista stands.
The rules would affect only unincorporated Snohomish County, but that would include areas surrounding the north end of Bothell.
A senior legislative analyst for the county, Susan Neely said the ordinance proposed by county councilman Dave Gossett would better define what Snohomish County considers lewd dress or behavior.
“It’s pretty straight forward,” Neely said of the measure, adding it gives county sheriffs the right to cite violators along with the owners of any businesses involved.
Proposed by council chairman Mike Cooper, the other measure attacks the problem through zoning measures and business licenses, essentially treating bikini barista shops like adult businesses.
Neely said both ordinances will have public hearings before the council Dec. 10.
As for Bothell itself, Mayor Mark Lamb said certainly the city has received numerous complaints about Beehive Espresso. But he also noted Beehive will be torn down next month along with numerous other businesses in the immediate vicinity of Main Street and Bothell Way to make room for the realignment of the two streets.
Lamb also bragged that Bothell has what he considers one of the strongest adult entertainment laws in the state.
He seemed in no hurry for Bothell to pass rules aimed specifically at bikini espresso stands, choosing to wait and see what approach other jurisdictions take, especially as Beehive is about to disappear. O’Byrne said that might not exactly be the case.
Though nothing is finalized, she said there are plans to relocate the business elsewhere within the city.
“And we will be as provocative as ever,” O’Byrne added, stating Beehive already has opened a second shop in Edmonds.
In Kenmore, Mayor David Baker said City Hall staffers routinely receive complaints regarding Best Friends, many coming from parents who say young children easily can see into the roadside stand. Baker said officials have discussed the issue, but declined to go into details.
“We are aware of it, we do know of it,” he said.
Back at Dolce Vita, Streitler said she hopes Bothell acts to control stands like Beehive sooner than later. She said Bothell Way could turn into the next State Route 99.