Will Semi-Naked Bikini Baristas Be Forced to Put Their Clothes On in Wash. State?

(Smokin Hot Espresso)
(Cowgirls Espresso)
(Smokin Hot Espresso)
EVERETT, Wash (CBS/AP) Is it legal to get a cup of coffee from a woman wearing nothing more than a thong and a smile?

Photo: Randi Damery, 29, left, and Kaylee McKinlay, 18, prepare coffee at Peek-A-Brew in Bonney Lake, Wash.

PICTURES: Bikini Barista Controversy

That's the question at hand in Everett, Wash., where a new law meant to curb the "bikini-barista" phenomenon forces coffee houses to get adult entertainment licenses if their coffee servers don't fully cover their
backsides and the bottom half of their breasts while whipping up the daily Joe.

Say what?

Yes, in Washington State, drive-thru bikini barista bars have become wildly popular and as the competition has heated up, the antics have as well.

Photo: Grab 'n Go Espresso in Everett, Wash.

PICTURES: Bikini Barista Controversy

In September, five women, employed by Grab-N-Go Espresso in Everett, Wash., were charged with prostitution because they reportedly charged customers up to $80 to watch them strip. Police detectives told CBS affiliate KIRO they witnessed women licking whipped cream off of each other and posing nude for photos.

Photo: Lenea Campion, 20, works at Smokin' Hot Espresso in Tacoma, Wash.

PICTURES: Bikini Barista Controversy

In early October, a barista at Bikini Bottom Espresso, Megan Lenn, was charged with indecent exposure for wearing nothing but pieces of black tape to cover her nipples.

Now, regulators in one Washington county are setting to put a stop to it.

Lisa Caughron, 20, works at the Cowgirls Espresso on Greenwood Ave. in Seattle.

PICTURES: Bikini Barista Controversy

On Dec. 16, the Snohomish County Council voted unanimously to regulate coffee stands featuring nearly nude baristas as they would any other adult entertainment establishment.

The new rules only apply to areas within the county that are outside city limits. They don't ban bikinis or even bikini-clad baristas. Instead, the regulations kick in when baristas wear thongs, pasties or other attire in public that don't fully cover rear ends or the bottom half of breasts, in which case those businesses have to be licensed and regulated as adult entertainment.

Photo: Stephanie Gibbons, 20, works at the Smokin' Hot Espresso in Tacoma, Wash.

PICTURES: Bikini Barista Controversy

The new rules also don't allow businesses to display signs with sexually explicit messages.

The council also tightened the county's lewd conduct law Wednesday, adding tougher penalties and more clearly spelling out when a person is guilty of lewd conduct. It also holds the business owner accountable for allowing lewd conduct.

Taken together, Councilman Mike Cooper told The Daily Herald, the changes should protect owners' rights to run a responsible adult business and the rights of people living nearby who don't want their children spotting baristas wearing pasties and thongs.

Photo: Window display at the Grab 'n Go coffee stand in Everett, Wash.

"I'm pleased we're going to be the leader, not the follower, in dealing with adult coffee stands," Cooper said.

At least one bikini barista stand owner said he'd go along with the law by requiring his baristas to wear more clothing rather than licensing the stands as adult businesses.

"We were in the process of doing away with pasties anyway," said Bill Wheeler, owner of Grab-n-Go Espresso said.

PICTURES: Bikini Barista Controversy