The baristas at a new drive-thru cafe near Redwood City won’t wear bikinis after all. Instead, they’ll don shorts and tank tops and serve drinks with tamer names than “Bootycall” and “3SUM” when the establishment opens at noon Friday.
Pink Pantherz Espresso is “revisiting drink names and even implementing, for the first time, a more family-friendly dress policy for their baristas” at its new location, owner Jose Carmona announced Thursday, acknowledging that the toned-down change is a response to community outcry
Pink Pantherz Espresso planned to sell coffee, Italian sodas, fruit smoothies and iced/blended drinks with risque names. Baristas at the business’ other locations in Fremont, Modesto and Fresno sport thong-style bikinis, but Carmona said those in unincorporated North Fair Oaks will wear shorts and tank tops.
“We’re surprised (by the outcry) obviously, just because it’s not a new concept, but at the end of the day we’re a company and we can change,” Carmona said in an interview Thursday. “We’ve got a business to run and we want to make sure we’re profitable. … We talked to the baristas and the baristas are happy.” A racy banner has also been removed and a new sign will be installed Friday.
Sister Christina Heltsley, executive director of the nearby St. Francis Center, which supports low-income families in the area, said Carmona “to his credit” made the change after a campaign on Change.org received nearly 1,500 signatures. “Really??? We went from the #MeToo movement to this? Absolutely not!” reads a comment from one of the signers.
At an August meeting of the county Board of Supervisors, residents complained that the cafe would send the wrong message to young girls and would be seen by children going to and from school. The county also received correspondence opposed to the cafe signed by 2,000 people, Heltsley said. Some residents still plan to march outside the cafe at 5:30 p.m. Friday to celebrate democracy in action — the march was originally organized as a protest.
“I don’t want to march (to make) the (baristas) feel shamed or intimidated, because that’s not our thing,” Heltsley said. “The march will be a celebration of the power of community. .. The young women that are involved have their reasons (but) it feels like we’ve made so many steps forward (for women’s rights) and this is going backward.”
Carmona, who started Pink Pantherz in 2014, said he hasn’t received similar complaints at the other cafes. He noted that 40 percent of the cafe’s clientele are women and bikini-clad baristas are exercising their freedom of expression. He said he hasn’t yet decided what will be the final barista uniform.
“I’m pleased he listened to the community,” County supervisor Warren Slocum said, adding that the county will be sending code enforcement officials to the cafe “from time to time.”
County planning director Steve Monowitz said county rules don’t prohibit baristas from wearing bikinis at the site, but “it would be distasteful.” Adult entertainment establishments are not allowed in North Fair Oaks; the Hanky Panky strip club just two blocks north was established before the rules changed and allowed to continue.
To be comply with county rules, baristas must keep their buttocks and genitals covered completely and breasts must be covered below the point immediately above the areola.
If the cafe violates rules, it will receive a warning for first offense, followed by a $100 fine for a second one, $200 for a third and $500 for each successive violation, Monowitz said.
Pink Pantherz’s hours of operation are 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays.
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