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November 23, 2009 at 5:01 PM

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Bellevue residents blast new bikini espresso stand

Posted by Nicole Tsong

The bikini baristas made their Bellevue debut in a Chevron parking lot Saturday. By Monday, residents had coordinated a letter-writing campaign to Chevron and organized to speak to the Bellevue City Council at a meeting tonight about it, and stations including KING-TV and KOMO-TV had aired stories about its appearance.

The sign for Knotty Bodies Espresso went up last Thursday at the intersection of Northeast Eighth Street and 164th Avenue Northeast, said resident Nick Bean, who took pictures of the bright-red hut and emailed them to other residents.

"I was incredulous," he said.

The stand, in the Crossroads/ Lake Hills area, opened Saturday, and sure enough, the baristas were scantily clad, he said.

Residents were angry. The stand is right next to a water park popular with kids, and a youth services center for troubled teens and a skateboard park also are nearby, residents said. People were offended by the sign, which shows a woman coyly looking back over her shoulder and wearing a bikini bottom but no top.

The owner told KING-TV that he intentionally built the stand without a window facing the water park.

Kimberly Nelson lives just blocks away and has two daughters. There's a bus stop near the espresso stand and several bus routes pass through the intersection, she said.

She is concerned that five bikini-clad baristas in Everett were charged with prostitution earlier this year.

"I really don't think that's an appropriate activity for children to witness," she said.

An espresso stand has occupied the Chevron parking lot for years, but recently received a city permit to remodel, said city spokesman Tim Waters. The city started getting calls last week from people in the area about the "bikini barista" espresso hut model. People felt the sign was graphic, he said.

The sign appears to meet city code, although the owner hasn't applied for a sign permit yet, Waters said. And the city is very limited on what it can do to control the content of the sign, which falls under free speech, he said. But the city specifically prohibited a drive-through. According to pictures of the stand, there is a drive-through lane.

A city employee will visit the stand for final inspection today or tomorrow, Waters said.

"We obviously intend to make sure all permit restrictions are enforced, including the no drive-through provision," he said.

The City Council is scheduled to meet tonight at City Hall at 6 p.m.

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Meet the bloggers

Video | Get to know Bellevue Blog reporters Nicole Tsong and Katherine Long.