Bellevue battles bikini baristas



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Posted on November 23, 2009 at 7:54 PM

Updated Friday, Apr 1 at 10:34 AM

BELLEVUE, Wash. - Bikini barista opponents take their protest to the Bellevue City Council.

There's a new controversy brewing in Bellevue. A bikini barista stand sparked some heated debate at Monday night's city council meeting.

A small army of bikini barista opponents packed the city council chambers.

"My 5-year-old said 'Mommie, why is that 5-year-old in that coffee stand in her underwear. It's not appropriate. In my opinion it's an adult use," said Susie Goett, who has to drive by the espresso stand to take her kids to school.

Meanwhile the Knotty Bodies espresso stand greeted a steady stream of customers. The female employees wear bikinis or lingerie, raising the heat in the Crossroads neighborhood despite the cold temperatures.

"It's all about the context," says Bellevue parent Nick Bean. "When you put somebody in a thong and you put them in a fishbowl, it's now been elevated to spectacle."

Many also complain the espresso stand sits next door to a children's park, and too close to schools.

"Tell all your friends not to patronize them," says Bellevue Deputy Mayor Claudia Balducci. "Tell your friends not to patronize the businesses that they're sitting on their land. I'm not going to gas up at the gas station anymore."

The city found two code violations so far. The business doesn't have a sign use permit, and is not allowed to have a drive-through window given the limited space in the parking lot.

"The permit was specifically conditioned that a drive-through would not be allowed for this particular business," said Mike Brennan, director of the city's Development Services Department.

Customer Derek Tighe came to the stand with his 2-year-old son in the back seat. He says it's much ado about nothing.

"I'm just worried that if we say girls can't dress here and do this then what are we going to say next?" he said.

The business has applied for a business license from the state but hasn't received it yet. But the Bellevue city council members admit all these violations are likely just short-term issues for the espresso stand.

The owner could not be reached for comment.