What a difference a month or so can make.
In mid-November, the Snohomish County Council was just beginning to consider tougher laws aimed at so-called bikini espresso stands.
Adopted in early December, new rules take effect Jan. 7, though they will be enforceable only in unincorporated Snohomish and, according to county officials, treat bikini stands somewhat like adult businesses.
Locally, the new laws will affect only areas with Bothell addresses north of the city’s boundaries.
Still, just as Snohomish County officials started their November deliberations, the Reporter asked local baristas at stands on Northeast Bothell Way what they thought of the possible new rules and the controversy over bikini stands in general.
The result was some seeming fighting words aimed at the bikini-clad baristas of Beehive Espresso, verbal punches launched by Beehive’s more fully dressed counterparts at the former Dolce Vita Espresso stand just a few blocks away.
The latter stand featured a sign declaring it “family friendly” and further stating, “Silly girls. Bikinis are for beaches.”
As of Dec. 28, the signs were gone as was the Dolce Vita stand. In its place? The relocated Beehive, complete with female baristas in beach wear.
“It just kind of worked out,” said Beehive owner Alan Tagle.
Like numerous other business owners on the outskirts of downtown Bothell, Tagle was forced to relocate his enterprise because of the coming realignment of Main Street and Bothell’s two state routes. Tagle said he worked indirectly with the former operator of Dolce Vita to make the move happen.
“No, she didn’t seem too fond of us,” Tagle admitted, saying he saw the comments of Dolce Vita’s Amber Streitler in the Reporter.
When asked about espresso stands such as Beehive or Kenmore’s Best Friends, Streitler was hardly shy in expressing her opinion.
“What don’t I like about it? Where do I start?” she said in the Nov. 18 Reporter. “You take away the coffee stand and it’s kind of like a (prostitute) standing on the side of the road.”
In the same article, Beehive barista and manager Grace O’Byrne said: “We’re not forced to do this, we’re not exploited… We’re not doing anything illegal.”
O’Byrne added she has a large, loyal customer base with whom she has a lot of fun. Her basic contention is she dresses for work like a pretty girl at a beach.
Streitler could not be reached for comment for this story. While Tagle was amiable and forthcoming with his comments, his baristas said they were asked not to talk to the media any further. For his part, Tagle said he was not about to allow Streitler’s opinions stand in the way of his moving his business.
According to Tagle, Streitler leased what he refers to as the log-cabin stand on Bothell Way to run Dolce Vita. He reiterated he worked mostly with a third party, namely a real-estate broker, to move the Beehive stand. But he again said he did have contact with Streitler, contact he described as “always friendly, always amicable.”
Tagle also claimed he was in talks to take over the Dolce Vita stand when the original article containing Streitler’s comments appeared in the Reporter.
“I didn’t take it personally,” he said, at one point noting he is still in business while Dolce Vita is apparently no more.
“We have been able to maintain a profitable business throughout the recession,” Tagle said, adding Beehive even was able to expand, opening a second stand in Edmonds.
“We think we have a good thing going,” he said, contending the “theme” of his stands has undoubtedly contributed to their profitability. Tagle also urged critics of stands such as Beehive to consider what he called the bigger picture. He said his stand obviously feeds into the local economy, not only helping out his employees, but his suppliers, as well.
A former bank manager who added he is a married father with a daughter, Tagle said the Beehive supplies customers with good coffee and good conversation. And, yes, he said the stand also features girls in bikinis.
“Maybe I don’t see the big deal in it,” Tagle said in discussing his business.