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Bikini Baristas Are Pissing People off in Washington

It doesn't take a marketing genius to figure out if you add women in bikinis to just about anything, that thing will get more attention. Just reference the entire 11p-3a lineup of Cinemax movies from your adolescence: The Bikini Carwash Company; The Bikini Carwash Company II; Bikini Summer; and of course, the much-heralded Bikini Summer II.

But here's the rub; it doesn't mean that stuff is better, or even good at all. It simply means there are women in bikinis executing quotidian tasks, garnering eyeballs from their lack of clothes.

Enter the bikini baristas, an increasingly common sight in Washington state. Topless coffee shops and the like have been plenty covered by Thrillist previously. But as more shops staffed by scantily clad coeds pop up, Washington's citizens and local governments have begun to wonder about the businesses' impact on their communities.

"There are a lot of business owners out there that are still trying to figure out how to build a better mouse trap," Spokane City Councilman Mike Fagan said. "Unfortunately, here in the city of Spokane, that better mouse trap, in their minds, would be to sell sex."

Bikini baristas argue their jobs aren't harming anyone, and if anything, they're adding jobs to the state's economy. And in a fit of equal sexual practice, there's even an all-male topless coffee stand in Port Orchard, WA, called Banana Hammock Espresso, the state's only male-staffed bikini barista shop. 

"It doesn't matter how good you look," said Banana Hammock owner and barista Adam Lovejoy. "If you don't have a good product, your customers aren't going to return."

In some ways, the terminology of "bikini barista" may be off, as Fagan notes, since often times the barista's garments consist of "about three stickers, strategically placed." Fagan has pushed for stricter legislation around the bikini barista stands, but so far, no one's sure what the long-term effects of the sex-charged coffee stands really amount to.

Watch the whole clip to find out more about the ongoing debate about Washington's bikini baristas.


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Ryan Craggs is Thrillist's Senior News Editor. He'd probably have to wear a hair net if he were a bikini barista. It kinda defeats the purpose. Follow him @ryanrcraggs.