Violations close Grab-n-Go espresso stand

EVERETT — An espresso stand chain that made national news when its bikini baristas were accused of prostitution is in trouble again — this time with the Snohomish Health District.

The Grab-n-Go Espresso Stand at Murphy’s Corner just outside Everett voluntarily shut down late Wednesday after Health District inspectors found seven health code violations, three of them considered critical.

The three critical violations all focused on employees not having enough hot water to wash their hands, said Randall Durant, a senior environmental health specialist.

This inspection was triggered by a complaint, not the baristas’ attire, he said.

The Health District follows the state food code, and that law does not address how much employees must wear to work. Inspectors are concerned with the prevention of food-borne illness, he said.

“A stand is a stand,” Durant said. “We treat them all the same.”

The Grab-n-Go can reopen once the owner fixes the problems and the Health District inspects it again, he said. That could be as soon as today.

Grab-n-Go owner Bill Wheeler denied that there have been health code violations. He said he shut down the coffee stand at Murphy’s Corner as part of planned remodel that had been in the works for months. He said the stand would be open for business this morning.

This isn’t the first health code violation for Grab-n-Go, which has half a dozen stands around Snohomish County.

The stand at Murphy’s Corner received two other critical violations July 23 when baristas couldn’t produce valid food worker cards. And the company did not provide towels for employees to dry their hands, according to inspection reports.

Grab-n-Go stands have violated critical health codes a total of 18 times this year.

In comparison, Java Juggs, a bikini barista chain with three stands, had no critical health code violations in the past year, according to records. Cowgirls Espresso, another county bikini espresso chain, had six.

Coffee stands are typically inspected annually by the Health District, although a complaint can trigger an inspection, Durant said. They’re generally inspected less frequently than other types of restaurants because their limited menus make them a lower risk, he said.

Grab-n-Go nabbed the attention of local and national media after two baristas who worked at a different Grab-n-Go stand on Highway 99 were charged in September with indecent exposure. Five other baristas were accused of engaging in prostitution at an Everett Grab-n-Go bikini stand on Broadway following a two-month undercover police investigation.

Reporter Noah Haglund contributed to this story.

Debra Smith: 425-339-3197,

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