How Do You Make an Attorney Blush?

No, this isn’t the latest lawyer joke.

It was part of my research for today’s story on Espresso Gone Wild, the stand in Gorst that has been attracting attention – positive and negative – for it’s “Pastie Days.” And, as I mentioned in the story, we’re not talking “pastries” misspelled.

At one point, I thought the stand might be in City of Bremerton boundaries (it’s actually in unincorporated Kitsap County). I spoke with city attorney Roger Lubovich and asked him if there were any regulations pertaining to businesses and attire, or lack thereof.

Roger was stumped and momentarily at a loss.

“We have no regulations on anything like that. This is new,” he said, “God, what next? Oh, man, kind of got to write a regulation for everything. … I’m sitting here blushing.”

On further exploration, I found out there are no rules restricting what baristas (or baristos for that matter) can or can’t wear.

The Kitsap County Health District’s regulations address the handling of food, not worker safety, and include only a “very vague item about clothing being clean,” said Bonnie Latham of the district’s food and living environment program.

The state’s Department of Labor and Industries’ A-to-Z list of regulations says nothing about safety rules related to “baristas,” “clothing,” “coffee,” “espresso stands” or “restaurants.” And there is nothing in Kitsap County code that addresses the issue of attire in establishments selling food and drink, said Philip Bacus, deputy prosecuting attorney with the county’s civil courts division.

Well, as they say, litigation abhors a vacuum. I wonder how long it will be until we see signs, “Caution the contents of this espresso stand may be not be suitable for children under 13 years of age.”

Come to think of it, a little heads up might be helpful. I can just see a soccer mom fueling up on her way to the tournament with a mini-van full of pre-adolescent boys. …

Now, a word from Mary Keller, owner of Natte Latte, also in Gorst, where the baristas wear pink leather hot pants. Mary came up with the idea in 2001, and has developed it into a brand with a boutique, calendar and other Natte latte goods.
“My focus is on my business and not theirs,” said Keller, in an e-mail to me today. “As I mentioned to you yesterday, for us and any company to survive you need to have sustainability, a marketing idea and a plan how to carry it out. And that is the premise that I operate under and that keeps us growing. Like any product, I founded and created a marketing niche and have fine tuned and focused it and others have tried to ride my shirt tails for years and that is capitalism at its finest. Someone will always try to copy a fine product and create something similar, they think, to be even greater. But it is usually the inventor, or the person who takes the first step that prevails and that is us.”

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