Bellevue leader suggests shaming bikini coffee stand visitors

Bellevue leader suggests shaming bikini coffee stand visitors
BELLEVUE, Wash. -- Area residents steamed about a new bikini espresso stand packed a Bellevue City Council meeting on Monday night.

They put the heat on council members to do something, and quickly.

"Bellevue has set the bar so high for being a great community for families. That's why we moved here. And it's plummeting with this," said resident Susie Goett.

The complaints poured in after Knotty Bodies Espresso opened up right beside the popular Crossroads Park over the weekend. The company received similar complaints when it opened up a stand right next to a school and a church in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood.

But the new shop's bikini-clad baristas insisted they've got as much right as anyone else to be there.

"There's absolutely no laws that say we can't be here. We have all the permits that we need. It's completely legal," said barista Lisa Caughron. "The only issue is a moral issue,"

But that's not entirely true. The espresso stand was warned by code enforcement on Monday that its drive-through is not legal.

"The limit for access to this particular building was pedestrian only; drive up access is not allowed," said Bellevue's Development Services Director Mike Brennan.

The stand also needs the correct signage permits. And so far, it still does not have a state business license.

But those technical issues can be fixed.

Residents want permanent changes to ordinances and zoning codes to prevent the sight of skimpy servers.

"When you put somebody in a thong and put them in a fishbowl, it's now been elevated to a spectacle," said Nick Bean.

It's a volatile issue among residents, who are threatening to boycott the espresso stand and even the gas station on which it sits.

Bellevue Deputy Mayor Claudia Balducci appeared to sympathize with the residents. She went so far as to suggest shaming customers by taking pictures of them, and then posting those shots on the Web.

"We've all got cell phone things. Anybody who doesn't want a picture of themselves being taken there buying coffee from a woman in a bikini and seeing it on the Internet -- that's a risk that you might be taking if you go to this place," she said.

The city gave the owner of the stand several days to fix the technical problems. But it was not clear whether the shop's drive-through will be shut down.

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