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New rule could put end to bikini baristas in Everett

EVERETT — A law working its way through the city could halt bikini barista stands by way of mandating a dress code.
The intent is, at least, to stop the ability for workers to flash customers for cash tips.
The new rules are oriented for all “quick service” places, including plain-jane burger drive-through joints, but the ordinance is tailored for coffee huts whose workers sell “more than coffee.”
These types of stands were subject to numerous stings since they began appearing in Everett.
The change here, though, is that it puts the onus of adhering to the dress code on stand owners. The third time a place violates the rules means it loses its business license.
Changing the licensure rules to add a dress code is a diff-erent approach to the stands. The city for years handled these issues by penalizing the baristas caught in stings conducting sex acts. It found that the owner would simply replace those servers with new ones without altering the problem.
The other way it forces stand compliance is because in the past owners plead ignorance that their workers were misbehaving, even though some owners, the city says, simply ignored their workers’ behavior.
The overarching “quick service” format includes everything from food trucks to hot dog stands.
Today’s bikini stands wouldn’t be able to be grandfathered because the dress code comes as a licen-sing stipulation.
A draft version of the ordinance was spread to espresso stand owners earlier this month.
The dress code specifies that the upper and lower body must be covered up at quick-serve places, meaning no chest cleavage and no showing stomachs or rear ends. A tank top and shorts is a minimum suggestion, city spokeswoman Meghan Pembroke said.
Penalties are on the owner, and hit the wallet. The offense is a civil infraction, and the first offense is a $250 fine and puts the location effectively on probation for five years, according to the draft ordinance. It is a three-strikes rule: The second and third fine will cost $500 each; the third incident costs the business location its license.
In its draft ordinance language, the city tips into morality issues. It has confirmed evidence that the bikini barista stands have created more crime, increased public sexual conduct, increases in the corruption of minors and adverse impacts on the aesthetics and property values of surrounding neighborhoods and businesses.
The ordinance will end up before the City Council for consideration. When it will be introduced for council discussion is not yet scheduled, Pembroke said last week.
One of the most notorious “sexpresso” cases were the stands owned by Carmela Panico, who ran six drive-up coffee stands that included such extravagances as stripper poles inside at least one of them. The women in those stands wore next to nothing by design and performed sex shows.
Panico plead guilty to prostitution and money laundering in 2013 after a lengthy police investigation. As part of the deal, she relinquished her stands and the city demolished two of those stands in December 2014.

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