Though the exact story is still being debated, most agree that during a hot summer in the early 1990s, a roadside coffee outlet in Washington state started a Bikini Wednesday promotion.
Seeing its sales jump, the owner knew he was on to something and so others quickly followed suit.
Fast forward to 2018 and they are in multiple US states, including Oregon, Idaho and North Carolina.
But they also draw complaints. Last year the city of Everett, Washington, tried to get rid of the stands.
The city council introduced a dress code law which basically required baristas to cover “minimum body areas” (more specifically the top three inches of legs below the buttocks, the torso and the breasts).
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">@spitfirrgingerr is at 901 Yosemite Blvd until 2!! Stop by for your daily dose of caffeine with a hot premium espresso drink! Brooke will be here with new hats, and mini calenders! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/bottomsupespresso?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#bottomsupespresso</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/bikinibarista?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#bikinibarista</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/lingerie?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#lingerie</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/comeby?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#comeby</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/followme?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#followme</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/perfectespressoshots?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#perfectespressoshots</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/california?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#california</a> <a href="https://t.co/a8HqrC89gl">pic.twitter.com/a8HqrC89gl</a></p>— Bottoms Up Espresso (@bottomsupbabes) <a href="https://twitter.com/bottomsupbabes/status/960576796516233216?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 5, 2018</a></blockquote>
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Knowing that his business model was in danger, the owner of a chain called Hillbilly Hotties (joined by seven of its staff) sued the city stating that the ban violated both their first amendment free speech and expression rights.
Then December of last year, US District Court Judge Ms Marsha Pechman heard both sides’ arguments and ruled that the girls could indeed continue to operate as before, stating that the city’s attempt to impose a dress code on the baristas was vague and violated the 14th Amendment as it particularly targeted women.
Furthermore, she agreed that the ordinances likely dishonored the First Amendment protections of freedom of expression, just as the plaintiffs had requested.
So the girls can continue, for now, as the city prepares for a new legal attack.
Starbucks, headquartered in Seattle, or any of the city’s hundreds of independent coffee shops for that matter, can’t compete with what the girls can make as ‘bikini baristas’ and so are keen to shut them down.
As ‘bikini baristas, they get up to $100 a day in tips, on top of the hourly Washington state minimum wage of $11.50, hence it is understandable that the ladies are keen on keeping their jobs on (and most of their clothes off).