Over the last couple of weeks, there have been a few times where I have railed against the amount of police resources being used to achieve a few misdemeanor charges, in this case, aimed at cracking down on 'bikini barista's' showing more than they are supposed too for larger than normal tips.
Now...I realize that the Seattle area has long been on the cutting edge of coffee marketing, but for those of you who don't have this in your area, in addition to major chains like Starbucks and Tully's, there are hundreds, nay, thousands of independent coffee stands located in the Northwest. When I lived in the town of Belfair, counting a stand-alone Starbucks and shops inside grocery stores, there were 8 latte stands in less than one square mile...in a town of 6000 people. So...marketing is important.
All coffee stands(except maybe Starbucks) hires with aesthetics in mind. A cute girl is just good marketing. I'm not trying to be misogynistic...but if two places are selling the same products at the same prices, I(and I think most people) are going to go the one with better scenery. Having aesthetically pleasing, friendly young ladies selling your coffee helps with repeat business...especially when you are trying to get folks paying $3.50-$4.25 for a cup of coffee to say 'keep the change' on the 5 spot they give you.
So...it didn't take long for some folks to find out that by putting their baristas is less clothing, they might be able to sell more(and more expensive) coffee. So, you now have a load of places with names like 'Twin Peaks Espresso', 'Big Jugs' and Naughte' Latte' where the ladies usually wear bikini's, or even lingerie.
I visited one of these once in Belfair, and only once. I wasn't willing to pay 35 cents extra just because the barista was in a bikini. Besides, when you get right down to it, in the summer, even at the 'normal' stands the aesthetically pleasing young ladies were wearing shorts(sometimes SHORTS!) and halter tops, which don't cover much more than bikini's. But...Oooo Bikini's! Ooo...Lingerie. The very words strike fear into the hearts of soccer moms, and so these type of stands constantly find themselves under attack with new laws concerning just what is 'adult entertainment'. Plus, spending the day in bikini's or less does make it easier to pull the bikini aside and show a little extra when someone tells you to keep the change on a $10 or a $20 for your $4 cup of joe.
History lesson over. The end result is hard to argue with...some girls are showing things they shouldn't show, and the police have the evidence to prove it. Misdemeanor charges have been filed and the world is safer for soccer moms after months of police work. Now...news comes out from the Everett Police that the one of the owners of a few of these stands is facing actual felony charges, and hey, we might have spent months investigating, but it was really only 8 hours of so of police work.
The felony charge in this case is 'Sexual Exploitation of a Minor', because you see, one of the ladies charged with showing too much is a 16 year old.
Now...I want to focus on the law here, but what kind of parent let's their kid do this? I'm on record just a few paragraphs ago as saying their isn't much difference between shorts/halter top and bikini...but there IS a difference. My oldest is almost 11. I know working at a coffee stand is a good way to make money...but I also guarentee you if my daughter choses this as a way to earn some cash, mom, dad and friends are keeping an eye on things...and bikinis/lingerie aint' flying.
From the RCWs:
Sexual Misconduct: A person is guilty of sexual exploitation of a minor if the person:
(a) Compels a minor by threat or force to engage in sexually explicit conduct, knowing that such conduct will be photographed or part of a live performance;
(b) Aids, invites, employs, authorizes, or causes a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct, knowing that such conduct will be photographed or part of a live performance;
So...the word is that the owner had surveillance video at his stand...so, while I am not on the jury of his peers, I say things don't look good for him. And they shouldn't. I also say they shouldn't look good for whatever other barista's were working with this 16-year old. These ladies(especially at the bikini places) aren't usually left working alone. If this 16-year old was on shift with one of the older ladies, they should face the same kind of charges that the owner is facing, because they stood there(heck potentially encouraged it because they split tips) and let it happen.
You know, this kind of thing never happened at Dunkin Donut's, where I could get a large french vanilla(light and sweet) and a bagel with cream cheese for the same price as a 16-ounce latte out here.
Man, I miss Dunkin Donut's.