Espresso stands are opening everywhere, and along with the variety of coffee comes a variety of baristas to sell it.
SMOKING HOT ESPRESSO
This drive through stand is located along the southbound ramp from SR302 to SR16. It is the third stand in a chain and opened Aug. 1. The baristas wear bikinis and lingerie.
Shayna Lazarz works at Smoking Hot and explains, "We are a 'themed' espresso stand. There will be a change of theme from day to day with police, nurse, football, schoolgirl, bikini, and others. Our costumer has not yet finished the other costumes, so we will use bikinis and lingerie until they are available."
The focus is still on the beverages, said Kyle McCall, the 19-year-old manager of Smoking Hot. "Don't be judgmental because of the bikinis,” McCall said. “The girls are nice, but our business is coffee. We have punch cards with every 11th cup free. Our customers must really like our coffee. We've given out dozens of free cups of espresso already."
Smoking Hot expects two large picnic tables to be delivered soon for outside relaxing. They frequently do car washes and the donations support the Seafair Pirates "who visit children in the hospital, and do other cool stuff like that," said McCall. "I'm thinking of becoming a pirate myself."
Bikini clad girls aren’t for everyone, and Kat Coffey who works at the nearby Purdy 76 said, "It's not my thing (bikinis). Kyle's a young man being a capitalist. I wish him well. His coffee's too expensive for me, but if they had guys in Speedos, I might take a look, but I'd be more interested in really good coffee."
Located at the Shell station near the Elgin-Clifton "Y" this stand opened Aug. 1. The baristas wear bikinis and lingerie, and also expect to do "themes," but are still in planning process.
The owner, Johanna Ellwanger, said she was looking for a way to squeeze a family income from the tight economy, and decided to make use of available facilities.
"Our predecessor, TRISHA'S, was too successful for her own good, she couldn't keep up with it. We knew that we had a good site for an espresso stand," said Ellwanger. "The bathing suits are a gimmick to help draw in the customers, nothing different than you'd see at the beach. The girls remain in the building. Our product, however, is coffee, tea, fraps, Italian soda, and muffins. I insist on the premium brands and will provide a service that the people want."
LACES 'N' LATTES
Located at the Texaco at SR302 and Wright-Bliss. Opening was planned for Aug. 21, but as of press time had not opened yet. This drive through espresso stand is to feature over 30 different "themes." Expect to see pasties and tassels once or twice per week.
"The girls will be our big draw," said Matthew, the owner. "And we aren't going to hide them. We'll have a four-foot by four-foot window to put them on display. I've lived on the KP for 26 years and have started a number of businesses here. I've researched a lot of these businesses over the past two years. It works. The customers want it. We are similar to the 'Girls Gone Wind' espresso stand in Gorst."
"We'll have a car wash on opening day with donations going to 'kids at need', said Matthew. "We'll also have our own roaster to get the best flavor from the award winning coffee we use. The girls bring the customers in the first time. The quality cofffee will keep them coming back."
Not to be overlooked are a plethora of long-established espresso stands on the KP:
Serving from in a 1953 Reo truck located in the parking lot for the Bridgeway Market for the past 10 years.
The owner's son (and barista), Clint Miller, said, "Most of our customers have been coming here consistently for the past 10 years. Tight money caused business to slack off a bit the last couple of years, but has started to pick back up. I wish the new guys luck, but do not expect them to affect our business."
At the Chevron station on SR302 across from Harvestime for the last six years.
"I expect men being men will try the new stands, but will quickly become old hat," said Danielle Wright, owner of Morning Star. "I don't expect it to affect our business at all. Seventy percent of my customers are women. Business has been so good that I am considering opening another stand within one year."
On SR302 at 118th, in a permanent building, not a temporary stand.
Owner Tara Froode struggled with an appropriate response due the "the sensitive issues involved," shrugging off the bikinis and pasties as being the shallow foibles of youth that we outgrow with age and maturity. Froode, also, did not see any threat to her business by the proliferation of espresso stands.
CLOSE TO HOME
At the Peninsula Market in Key Center. Been there 15 years.
"Business tappered off in November/December 2008 from the economy, and hasn't come back yet," said Laura McClintock, the owner. "The number of construction workers has especially dropped off, we've lost a lot of jobs. We should all support our local businesses, go for the little guys, not the corporations. I don't expect to loose any business to the new guys. Some might look and come back, but we have loyal customers, employees with a personality, and the best espresso with really good ingredients. We don't skimp."
UNDERWRITTEN BY NEWSMATCH/MIAMI FOUNDATION, THE ANGEL GUILD, ROTARY CLUB OF GIG HARBOR, ADVERTISERS, DONORS AND PEOPLE WHO SUPPORT LOCAL, INDEPENDENT NONPROFIT NEWS