Nude baristas given a warning

EVERETT — Racy roadside espresso stands featuring nearly bare-breasted baristas are adult entertainment and can be regulated as such, a Pierce County city’s top legal adviser said last week.

It’s the first signal in the Puget Sound area — the epicenter of the “sexpresso” movement — that the government is willing to rein-in the businesses.

Bonney Lake’s take on the controversy could prove instructive for politicians in Snohomish County who so far have claimed their hands are tied when it comes to ordering baristas to cover some flesh.

“We are aware of the direction that Bonney Lake is taking and we are reviewing their direction and how it might relate to our municipal codes,” Everett spokeswoman Kate Reardon said.

In the past year, several espresso stands with provocatively dressed employees have opened in Snohomish County, including a few stands where baristas cover their breasts with little more than stickers.

Bonney Lake councilwoman Laurie Carter represents a district with two controversial coffee kiosks located on main roads through town.

“I hope that things will settle down now that we know where we stand,” Carter said.

The coffee businesses in Bonney Lake made national news and were the target of protests and angry testimony at City Hall.

One of the stands, Hot Chick-a-Latte, allowed female employees to essentially go topless, covering their breasts with hand-shaped pasties, electrical tape or scarves.

Bonney Lake city attorney James Dionne on Tuesday said the city can impose time, place and manner restrictions on adult entertainment businesses without violating First Amendment free expression rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

He said the city’s rules are modeled after an ordinance upheld by the state Supreme Court.

The city’s adult entertainment ordinance encompasses businesses that allow the exhibition of female breasts below the top of the areola.

Since the city has notified Hot Chick-a-Latte about its interpretation of the rule, the business has watered down its full-­bodied marketing gimmick, Bonney Lake Mayor Neil Johnson said.

“As far as I understand, they’ve been wearing bikini tops since everything hit the fan,” he said.

Changes also seem to be spilling over to Snohomish County.

Baristas at Mocha Boat in ­Lynnwood recently stopped wearing pasties and now stick with bikini tops, lingerie or costumes that cover more of their breasts.

“They just didn’t want a Bonney Lake-type woman coming and causing conflict at our stands,” said Mocha Boat owner Carrie Smith. “But they don’t think, and I don’t think, they violated anything or were inappropriate.”

Bill Wheeler owns Grab ‘N’ Go Espresso with locations in the county between Everett and Mukilteo, and hopes to soon operate a dozen stands in Washington and Nevada.

He said his baristas stopped donning pasties and now only wear bikinis and lingerie.

“We got tired of people whining about it,” he said.

Wheeler said he was asked by a Snohomish County sheriff’s deputy to tone things down. He agreed, and said he understands law enforcement had more important things to do with their time than to police espresso stands.

But there are limits to how much he’s willing to change his business model.

“If they said you can’t wear bikinis, that’s something we would take to the highest court in the state, or higher, if we had to,” Wheeler said.

Reporter David Chircop: 425-339-3429 or dchircop@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Alexander Fritz is released from handcuffs after being lead into the courtroom Thursday afternoon at Snohomish County Courthouse in Everett, Washington on October 6, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Team USA climbing coach gets 5 years for child rapes

Alexander Fritz, 28, engaged in “inappropriate relationships” with 15-year-old girls, he admitted in Snohomish County Superior Court.

Analisa Paterno of Marysville-Getchell, left, shares a laugh with Nathan Harms Friday morning at Pathfinder Manufacturing in Everett, Washington on September 23, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Sky’s the limit: Snohomish County teens help build parts for Boeing

Pathfinder Manufacturing in Everett trains dozens of at-risk high school students to make airplane parts, en route to a career.

Fred Safstrom, CEO of Housing Hope, is retiring. Photographed in Everett, Washington on October 5, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Housing Hope CEO reflects on 25-year career helping unsheltered people

“People used to believe homelessness was caused by bad choices.” Minds and policies are changing, Fred Safstrom said.

Vehicles exiting I-5 southbound begin to turn left into the eastbound lanes of 164th Street Southwest on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, in Lynnwood, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Traffic backups on 164th Street near I-5 could see relief soon

The county and state are implementing a new traffic signal system that synchronizes the corridor and adjusts to demand.

Rick Winter (left) and Gary Yang, the founders of the former UniEnergy Technologies, stand with one their latest batteries, the Reflex, August 10, 2022. (Dan DeLong/InvestigateWest)
‘Chaotic mess’: Clean energy promises imploded at Mukilteo battery maker

UniEnergy Technologies absorbed millions in public funds, then suddenly went dark. The company is accused of providing tech to China.

Everett
Federal funds could pay for Everett bathrooms, gun buyback, more

City officials propose $7.95 million of American Rescue Plan Act money on a shelter, mental health support and more.

Community Transit chief financial officer Eunjoo Greenhouse
Community Transit hires King County staffer as CFO

Eunjoo Greenhouse is set to join the agency Oct. 24 after years in King County government.

A fire at a duplex in Lynnwood injured one Thursday evening. (South County Fire)
1 injured, 3 displaced in Lynnwood duplex fire

A man was found hurt inside a duplex in the 4300 block of 176th Place SW. He was taken to Harborview Medical Center.

Lynnwood
Charges: Lynnwood man served as courier for ‘El Pariente’ drug ring

Prosecutors allege Alejandro Urquidez Medina tried to deal fentanyl and cocaine through UPS as part of a major organization.

Most Read