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February 01, 2007

"I'll have a double espresso with skim and cleavage"

It's hard to believe it's taken so long for the Hooters approach to take over Seattle coffee shops.

The naughty baristas of Cowgirls Espresso represent a new trend in and around Seattle — perhaps the most caffeinated city in America — and illustrate how cutthroat the competition can be in the hometown of Starbucks, which has multiple coffee shops competing on the same block.

Among the other coffee stands that are showing some skin: Moka Girls in Auburn, The Sweet Spot Cafe in Shoreline, Bikini Espresso in Renton and Natte Latte in Port Orchard.

One recent afternoon, there was a long line of cars at the tiny, black-and-white, cow-painted Cowgirls stand in front of a Tukwila casino.

Candice Law, leaning provocatively out the drive-through window in a black bra that didn't quite cover her shiny purple pasties, and Toni Morgan, wearing a skimpy halter top, see-through red lace panties and chaps, seemed to know every customer.
Go ahead, click through. There's a photo. I know that's why you're here. And, amusingly, there's a place under the photo where it says "Enlarge."

So I did, and here it is:

In case you were wondering about the law, the article advises: "As long as the employees' breasts and buttocks are covered, they aren't breaking the law. And the owners of the stands say they get few complaints." I'll bet they do.

Now, let me be the first to say that this just wouldn't work for me. Half the time, when I go out for coffee, I'm with my wife. The other half of the time, I'm actually trying to work.

Which, really, is quite OK with me. There's something just a little weird about the whole thing.

And the real problem is what this does to the market.
Coffee-stand owner John Cambroto couldn't compete against the bikini-clad women selling espresso up the road.

"We had a much better atmosphere, good coffee. Unfortunately, they ran around half-naked and we didn't," said Cambroto, who finally threw in the towel last spring and sold his business to his rival, the operator of six Cowgirls Espresso stands in the Seattle suburbs.
I guess that's life in a capitalist society. After all, at some point Cowgirls is going to have to throw in the towel itself, only it probably will just throw in the bikini.

And that may well be the best time to grab an espresso.