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Friday, August 24, 2007

“I Make Coffee, I Don’t Sell My Body, You Know?”

posted by on August 24 at 12:48 PM

When the new boss at a Monroe coffee shop told his female employees that they’d have to show some T&A if they wanted to keep their jobs (part of the conversion of the shop into a Cowgirls Espresso franchise), they told him they’d rather lose their jobs than their dignity.

All of them.

Of course, the story has a happy ending—for the owner, if not his mortgage-paying employees. King 5 reports that he’s had no problem finding applicants willing to tart it up for theme days like Cowgirl Tuesday, Schoolgirl Thursday, and Fantasy Friday.

Remember those halcyon days—back in January—when it was news that this chain existed at all? Now the only news is when women actually refuse to dress up in sexy schoolgirl outfits for the privilege of serving coffee to pervy suburban dads.

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I would hope that the workers who quit would qualify for unemployment. It certainly sounds like the owner created a hostile environment for those already working there.

Posted by genevieve | August 24, 2007 12:55 PM

Damn, when you wrote that there was a happy ending, I thought you were going somewhere else...

Though I am all for slutty baristas (I'm a perv, sue me), I wouldn't be surprised if this violated some law. I mean, getting a job at a coffe shop isn't exactly like working at Hooters. There isn't an informed consent...

Now, if you wouldn't mind, I'd like to see more pics of Schoolgirl Thursday...

Posted by Mike in MO | August 24, 2007 1:13 PM

it seems to me that they could collectively sue for any number of work place violations, like sexual harassment for example.

Posted by douglas | August 24, 2007 1:13 PM

i saw that segment on king 5 news last night and the young women interviewed really warmed my heart. they were both young, attractive, and very clear about their refusal to dress like whores.

i gotta imagine that it wasn't an easy decision, based on economics and the "don't rock the boat" mentality that generally goes along with living in small communities. good for them.

Posted by kerri harrop | August 24, 2007 1:14 PM

Oh god, it must be a real tragedy for a suburban girl to lose her minimum wage job serving coffee. I'm sure there's no other jobs they could get, and that now they'll starve to death out in the cold.

Posted by Smegmalicious | August 24, 2007 1:19 PM

What kerri harrop said! I was thrilled, THRILLED to hear one of the baristas say, "This demeans women."

Posted by elm | August 24, 2007 1:20 PM

@5 - screw you

Everyone else: even if the dress code is somehow legal, they're not allowed to discriminate on the basis of sex, are they?

Anyone want to get a posse of burly dudes together to submit applications?

Posted by Levislade | August 24, 2007 1:24 PM

I imagine hordes of women dressed to kill with tire irons, giving the owner the encouragement he needs to tart up and serve coffee for tiny tips.

Posted by regina hackett | August 24, 2007 1:26 PM

Oh come on, it's not like this is a huge tragedy. The owner has the right to redefine his business and the girls have the right to quit and go get a job at starbucks or wherever else they can.

It's not like these are skilled workers who are going to require a ton of job training to get on their feet. These girls are not feeding families on barrista money, and even if they are they can just as easily replace that money at any number of other jobs.

For such a liberal city, we sure can be prudes about some things. Get over it.

Posted by Smegmalicious | August 24, 2007 1:31 PM

@7: Awesomest idea ever! :) I'm chafing at the fact that this asshole owner isn't going to get some kind of comeuppance...

Posted by bma | August 24, 2007 1:32 PM

I agree that the owner has the right to redefine his business, and I have no problem with the staff he hires taking their place wearing the uniforms they are signing up to wear. But to impose that kind of uniform on his existing staff gives them grounds for receiving unemployment, as is it a change that created an untenable situation for them to continue employment there.

That aside, I agree with Kerri - good for them!

Posted by genevieve | August 24, 2007 1:41 PM

I wish I could get the Dr. Seuss hat wearin', cut-off-to-below-the-knee pants wearin', Mother Love Bone t-shirt sportin' espresso cart shot pullers out of my 1990's memory cell.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | August 24, 2007 1:46 PM

I'm glad the girls are getting lots of publicity. They should be rewarded for their integrity. As for the many, many girls who would be more than willing to slut up for this asshole of a manager... good lord.

Does this remind anyone else of Idiocracy?

Posted by Katelyn | August 24, 2007 1:52 PM

#9: How the hell do you know what they do with their wages and what business is it of yours? None.

Yes, these workers probably have choices to work somewhere else. That's not the point.

The worker was right. It does deman women, plain and simple. Case in point, the quote from the customer:

"If I'm going to pay $4 for a cup of coffee" said one male customer, "I'm not going to get served by a guy."

Posted by hey | August 24, 2007 2:01 PM

I've been silently praying for the Hot Dog on a Stick workers to rise up and slaughter their masters for, o, i don't know, about 20 years now?

Posted by NapoleonXIV | August 24, 2007 2:11 PM

Right fucking on, ladies.

The themed coffee stands squick me out. The women who work there are already in a bit of a sketchy situation (it's amazing what some asshole will tell you to your face as you serve him coffee), but customers can/have become downright stalkerish. There was an interview in the BCC paper this spring with a girl who'd worked at a Cowgirls or other themed stand and had to quit and file a restraining order against a customer who would come by and repeatedly verbally harass her or wait for her to leave and walk to her car. He somehow got her number and would call her or drive by her house.

That shit is creepy and not right. Is the owner going to come down and ban customers when they verbally harass his new employees, or is he going to tell them to just roll with it?

Posted by Jessica | August 24, 2007 2:15 PM

Exactly. The business they're in isn't selling coffee. The business they're in is sellig coffee and TnA. You can't win in that business without the TnA. The girls had a right to get out and they did. I don't see why this is news.

Posted by Smegmalicious | August 24, 2007 2:17 PM

i like to look at naked ladies, but i'd be embarassed to go to that coffee place. it would be like coming out of the lusty lady & seeing an old GF.

Posted by maxsolomon | August 24, 2007 2:23 PM


If the owner had simply closed his espresso stand altogether and opened up a strip club instead, would that have offended those here equally? And if not, why not? Just curious.

Posted by tsm | August 24, 2007 2:25 PM

To all those suggesting that this is discrimination on the basis of sex because they wouldn't hire men to fill those positions, I have four words: "bona fide occupational qualification." The business model of this new shop appears to be "Scantily clad women + coffee = profit." I could understand the ire if this were the only coffee shop in town, but somehow I doubt that's the case.

Posted by Matt | August 24, 2007 2:28 PM

The owner is a woman.

Posted by look it up | August 24, 2007 2:28 PM

"for the privilege of serving coffee to pervy suburban dads."

Hey now, Erica, easy on the sex-negative trip. There's nothing pervy about men (or women) who enjoy women (or men) in sexy outfits.

Posted by Sean | August 24, 2007 2:31 PM

The owner probably couldn't open a strip club because of Seattle's draconic anti-stripping laws.

Posted by Smegmalicious | August 24, 2007 2:34 PM

Good point. If you get into the business of selling sex, you also need to be in the business of cracking skulls in order to protect your workers from the freaks.

Posted by Sean | August 24, 2007 2:39 PM


We remove comments that are off topic, threatening, or commercial in nature, and we do not allow sock-puppetry (impersonating someone else)—or any kind of puppetry, for that matter. We never censor comments based on ideology.

Posted by Aliyah | August 24, 2007 2:49 PM

Aren't there gay bars where the guys, like, dress sexy? It seems I remember Halloween at the Frontier Room being pretty outrageous.

And it seems Cowgirls require women with really nice chins! How unfair.

But do they allow dogs?

Posted by whatever | August 24, 2007 3:08 PM

@ 21: Not true. The owner of this stand is a man.

Posted by ECB | August 24, 2007 3:10 PM

@27 - I think what that poster meant was that the owner of Cowgirls itself, not that specific franchise, is female.

Posted by tsm | August 24, 2007 3:12 PM

@23 Monroe is a city in Snohomish County. They have their own rules for strip clubs out there.

Posted by brappy | August 24, 2007 3:21 PM


We remove comments that are off topic, threatening, or commercial in nature, and we do not allow sock-puppetry (impersonating someone else)—or any kind of puppetry, for that matter. We never censor comments based on ideology.

Posted by Elke | August 24, 2007 3:24 PM

See, these are the kind of "values" that Red Bushies promote.

It's all about the greenbacks to them.

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 24, 2007 3:26 PM

i just had to add here, because someone mentioned it one of the older articles on the subject.
i would totally apply to be a scantily-clad guy serving... who cares. i'm not homophobic, but i might be a little uncomfortable when i get hit on by a gay dude, but other than that, yeah. whatever, it's just a human body.
oh, plus i would never have to actually seriously consider being hired for such a job, because there have to be like 3 people in the city who would find my scrawniness attractive.

aliyah- aren't you supposed to be dead? and what the hell is your reasoning behind the big boobs comment? isn't that, like, totally prejudiced, and as a woman, shouldn't you know better than to think it's the woman's fault?

Posted by frequency ass bandit | August 24, 2007 3:29 PM

**Jessica** People with filthy mouths
show themselves to be unintelligent and
rude....If you want people to at least
listen to your point then clean up your

Posted by Tom Boord | August 24, 2007 3:36 PM

"As a woman and a Jew I face double oppression every day. It should be illegal to hire women with big boobs. Thank you Erica for speaking out for all woman. This expresso shop is sexist and I wouldn't doubt that the owner is a racist and anti-semite too."

Lame. My girlfriend happens to have 'big boobs'. She also has one hell of mind and is a kick ass feminist, you'd deny her a job based on her appearance? Progressive.

Posted by K X One | August 24, 2007 3:53 PM

Here is my comment you deleted-

As a woman and a Jew I face double oppression every day. It should be illegal to hire women with big boobs. Thank you Erica for speaking out for all woman. This expresso shop is sexist and I wouldn't doubt that the owner is a racist and anti-semite too.

I don't see how it's off topic. I care about women's rights and I care about freedom of speech. Why has The Stranger become such a whiner?

Posted by Aliyah | August 24, 2007 4:09 PM

To me, it's just a way to differentiate one's espresso business from the thousands of espresso businesses already out there. That's not an excuse, just an observation. You've gotta admit it's gotten them a ton of free press.

But yeah, no matter how hot the schoolgirl outfits are (sorry, I'm also a perv) there's no way I'm going in there for the same reason I don't go to Lusty Lady: shame.

Posted by Matthew | August 24, 2007 4:22 PM

Sexism, racism and antisemitism are often found together. My guess is if this woman is sexist enough to run such a disgusting espresso stand she's probably racist too.

Posted by Z grrl | August 24, 2007 4:31 PM

Truly disgusting! What is the address again???

Posted by StrangerDanger | August 24, 2007 4:55 PM

I think the address is 666 Bushhitler Way.

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 24, 2007 4:59 PM

I honestly prefer business without annoying or offensive gimmicks. Sell me a nice product at a reasonable price with a minimum of annoyance, and I'll be your customer for ever.

You can take your oddly dressed sales people, stupid loyalty card, flashy lights, or what ever other nonsense you think of to annoy your customers and shove it up your ass.

Posted by Giffy | August 24, 2007 5:26 PM

Just because the guy wants his employees to dress in whore uniforms, no he anti-semitic. What kind of fuckin retard logic is that. Are you saying that jewish girls wouldn't get hired because their ugly? I don't get it?

Posted by opus23 | August 24, 2007 5:39 PM

aliyah, it was off-topic because being a jew has nothing to do with being a women or being told to dress a certain way, and it probably had to do with your idiotic quip about "big boobs." did i mention that was the dumbest thing i've ever read coming from a self-proclaimed advocate of women's rights?

Posted by frequency ass bandit | August 24, 2007 7:57 PM

ohhh yeah! I for one am glad those upity chicks quit, I can't wait for the new crop!! though I probaby won't stop by on tuesdays, not into the cowgirl thing, but fantasy fridays, ohhhh I'm so there! I hope one of 'em dresses up as a Ferngi goddess or like a scanty-clad elven queen ...perhaps one-could even whip up my mochachino while wearing an easter bunny suit...ohhh yeah baby, froth my drink, unghhhhh.....

Posted by pervy suburban dad | August 24, 2007 8:38 PM

oh wait, it's in Monroe, Im all the way down here in Kent! Well guess I have to visit a "client" up in Monroe on Fridays....grrr elven easter bunnies grr!!!

Posted by pervy suburban dad | August 24, 2007 8:47 PM

There are plenty of Jewish feminists who have experienced oppression so yes being a Jewish feminist does have something to do with this. Women should not be fired because of their breast size.

Seattle is so backwards and rural. I miss living in New York where this kind of thing never happens.

Posted by Aliyah | August 25, 2007 10:57 AM


Go back then.

Posted by opus23 | August 25, 2007 11:21 AM

Pervy Suburban Dad, don't drive to Monroe. You have a Cowgirls Espresso in Kent, up on the hill.

I love how every form of sexuality is o.k. in the Stranger except for guys lusting after women. If this were a coffeeshop featuring bears or femmes you'd be all over the advertising dollars...

Posted by A Different Yet Equally Pervy Suburban Dad | August 27, 2007 2:21 AM

We should ban them all. T&A doesn't belong in coffeeshops! Then all the pervy suburban dads will just have to go back to lusting after teenage girls at socially acceptable events, like high school basketball games and Prom.

Posted by Greg | August 27, 2007 11:37 AM

Some of y'all are totally missing the point. No one is saying that an espresso shop owner can't decide that the theme of his shop is T&A and hire accordingly. Those who accept those jobs would have full knowledge of the requirements of the position (scanty dress), and would have implicitly or explicitly accepted that condition by accepting the job offer. However, by imposing those conditions AFTER THE FACT, the owner is in fact creating a hostile work environment.

It has very little (legally speaking) to do with the semi-nudity, and everything to do with arbitrarily changing the job requirements for existing employees without explicitly renegotiating the terms of their employment.

Posted by Geni | August 27, 2007 11:41 AM

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