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County cracks down on ‘topless’ espresso stands

A walk-up customer waits for his order at Espresso Gone Crazy in Gorst. - Jeff Rhodes/Staff Photo
A walk-up customer waits for his order at Espresso Gone Crazy in Gorst.
— image credit: Jeff Rhodes/Staff Photo

“Topless” coffee stands may soon be regulated in Kitsap County. Lary Keeton, the county’s director of community development, has started the process of drafting legislation to do so.

“I recently had an unfortunate surprise unwittingly driving through a poorly advertised topless coffee kiosk,” said Emily Selph, a mother of three young children from Bremerton. “Now when I say topless, I mean there were small stickers over the relevant square inch of this woman’s breasts.”

That, Selph argued, fits the legal definition of obscenity.

“I would ask you to envision this scenario,” she said, “a lady wearing nothing but pasties is standing on the street corner as opposed to in the kiosk.”

It would cause a “veritable uproar,” she said. “So why is this OK for minors to view in a kiosk, instead of on a street corner with or without their parents?”

Selph offered several suggestions to the county.

First, she suggested the shops require baristas to “wear a bikini or be regulated as an adult establishment.”

If the county won’t require the baristas to wear bikinis, Selph recommends that the county, “at least regulate these kiosks to require reflective windows, signs with clear warnings to would-be customers, and barricades to prevent unsafe road conditions for passers by.”

Marnie Ferraro, a mother of four boys, expressed similar concerns.

“It’s very disconcerting to just be at a stop light, and next thing you know, ‘Oh my,’” she said. “To be caught off guard by this was very disconcerting and upsetting. It would be different if we walked into an actual establishment.”

Snohomish County began regulating local coffee shops in December 2010.

There, the coffee stands are considered adult entertainment venues, and employees must wear at least the equivalent of a bikini.

The issue is treated differently in different parts of Kitsap County.

The city of Bremerton, for example, has ordinances in place to regulate the shops.

But in parts of Kitsap County that aren’t within a city’s limits, the rules are less restrictive.

There are four local espresso stands, outside the Bremerton city limits, that recently switched over to the business model, said Ferraro.

Two go by the name “Espresso Gone Crazy.”

The manager at the “Espresso Gone Crazy” in Gorst said she hadn’t heard of the regulation change.

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