Until recently, Barista’s Coffee featured prominently pastries and pasties. Now it’s just pastries. Sort of.
That is, without claiming a “wardrobe malfunction,” baristas at the coffee drive-thru at Sixth Avenue and Naval Avenue wore pasties, which are defined by Wikipedia as “adhesive coverings applied to cover a person’s nipples.”
You’d think it was Janet Jackson’s mammary glands on display during the Super Bowl the way some media outlets have been chasing this rather tired, trite story on what is essentially a marketing ploy.
The dustup started when the coffee shop recently went “all pastie, all the time” Monday through Friday — and advertised as much on its reader board, which features a scantily clad hula girl with a great big smile.
City officials and police on Wednesday told the owner that pasties broke the law. Dress more modestly, or face the fire, they said.
The owner, Chris Tibbs, said his employees requested the new uniform protocol. He believes the city’s actions were heavy-handed and he immediately began shopping the story to local media, including the Kitsap Sun.
And most of us were all too eager to strike up a conversation about the finer points of anatomy and undergarments.
In his defense, Tibbs said the pasties worn by employees were “about the size of my hand” and are really “stringless bikini tops.”
(Not that I really have to, but I should mention that these employees are young women.)
The practice of stripping down to compete in the apparently cutthroat world of caffeine pushing isn’t new to the area. Both Gorst and Belfair have seen the fight for tips turn coffee houses into something resembling the Moulin Rouge. And they weren’t the first, either. There’s nothing original about it.
Nor is there anything original about the media interest. Sex is used to sell cars, underarm deodorant and children’s dolls. Why not use it to sell coffee and the news?
The pasties violate two laws, the city contends, one ordinance prohibiting “lewd” conduct and the other a code regulating adult businesses. The latter is a civil matter, the former is a criminal matter.
The pertinent definition of “lewd,” according to the city, is showing a portion of the breast below the areola.
A report was filed the same day with the Bremerton Police Department, as lewd conduct is a misdemeanor offense. The shop was given a warning.
Later Wednesday afternoon, after Tibbs heard from the city, the barista on duty was mixing drinks wearing a bikini top, the kind with strings. On Thursday, the barista was wearing a tank top.
A city official said she received “several” complaints about the pasties, although she was not able to provide any evidence of those complaints, or an exact number.
However, on Wednesday, the shop changed its reader board to include Bozeman’s office number, apparently hoping to stir up the customers who prefer their coffee served by a young woman unencumbered by clothing. Since the sign went up, the mayor’s office said it has received about “five or six” phone calls in support of the city’s action, but no calls in support of the business. (The office received one anti-pastie letter. – Binion, 8/8)
In a 90-minute interview Thursday in which Bozeman answered questions about the city’s lack of action in the troubled Anderson Cove neighborhood, SKIA, a daunting budget season and a business challenging the city’s plans for the waterfront, Bozeman declined to comment at length on Pastiegate.
“I’m just trying to uphold the law,” he said.
Likewise, city officials did not make themselves available to be filmed by two Seattle television crews on the issue.
“We could have cited him, but we didn’t,” said Roger Lubovich, city attorney. “We gave him a warning. It’s not lawful, they complied, and now it’s OK.”