A coffee shop in Washington has been luring customers with its a very controversial unique selling point a bikini dress code for staff.
Bikini Beans Espresso, which also has branches in Arizona, employs baristas to make coffee in bikinis or underwear, while some have opted for just strategically-placed stickers to preserve their modesty.
The shop, owned by entrepreneur Carlie Jo, has been a huge success, earning a five-star rating on Yelp and tens of thousands of followers on its social media accounts.
While a bikini dress code may seem like a step backwards for gender equality, the shop’s owners insist it’s to empower women. However Carlie said: “As the first bikini barista shop in Arizona, we want to empower women to be, and feel good about, themselves.
‘Women everywhere have the right to vote, to be gay, to be successful community leaders and business owners, or even run for president! We have the right to work with grace, confidence and dignity, regardless if it’s in a business suit, scrubs, or a bikini.’
Unsurprisingly, the business model appears to be most appealing to men, complimenting beautiful staff.
But not everyone is convinced, including city councilor Mike Fagan who unsuccessfully tried to impose limitations on bikini barista stands. According to Fagan, the stand promotes the exploitation of women.
Fagan said: It should be all about the coffee and not about the body. Having frequented at least one time in each of these shops, just to see what the consumer is subjected to, we’re talking about three stickers strategically placed — and I’ll leave it up to everybody else’s imagination as to where those stickers are placed.
Although Fagan worry that bikini drive-through coffee shops promote the ‘exploitation of women’, the manager at Bare Beans, Allison, describes the experience as ’empowering’.
Clearly, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea — but as long as the men and women who de-robe to serve up a cup of Joe are happy it’s going to be hard for councilors to make a case against them, particularly with the recent social movement to normalize nudity.