A new ordinance passed in the city of Everett this week puts limits on how much skin so-called bikini baristas can show. The new rules basically take the bikini out of bikini barista coffee stands.
The ordinance requires owners of quick service facilities — like fast food outlets, food trucks and coffee stands — to enforce dress requirements. It calls out the breasts, torso, buttocks and top three inches of the legs (below the buttocks) as body areas that must be covered.
Ramsey Ramerman, assistant city attorney in Everett, said this isn't about people being offended by bikinis. He said the legislation was born out of a proliferation of crimes around some bikini barista stands.
"Gross, inappropriate sexual conduct, and it was multiple owners, dozens and dozens of baristas — it was significant criminal conduct. And then we saw women forced into this type of conduct as well, and that is the problem we're trying to deal with," Ramerman said.
The ordinance states that the city has “found evidence relating to the adverse impacts of the conduct of bikini barista stands. This evidence relates to barista stands with employees dressing in a manner that is closely and customarily associated with adult entertainment or adult situations. Further, this evidence indicates that businesses providing casual food services including such things as fast food restaurants, delis, food trucks and coffee stands (quick service facilities) might easily transition to the bikini barista stand model.”
Ramerman said this ordinance puts the onus on owners to enforce minimum dress standards. If an owner doesn’t follow the rules, a first violation will result in a fine and they’ll need to get a probationary license. Two additional violations can result in the owner’s stand being shut down.
Denver Reedy owns Candy Girls Espresso in Everett. He told council members the ordinance is poorly thought out and opens the city up to a lawsuit.
"It segregates a small portion of the community and enforces standards upon us that will not be enforced on the community as a whole. If it would require every business to follow these standards that would be one thing, though laughable, at least it would be non-discriminatory against a minority of businesses," Reedy said.
Reedy and several others also questioned how the city could enforce a rule requiring the top three inches of the leg to be covered.
Ramerman said that owners have hinted that they’ll sue over the ordinance. He said the city anticipates a lawsuit.