The owners of several drive-through bikini coffee stands in Washington State have been arrested on charges of sexual exploitation of a minor after baristas at the stands — including one 16-year-old-girl — were found giving “sexy shows” to patrons for tips. Unfortunately for Bill Dwayne Wheeler Jr. and his as yet unnamed partner, undercover police were among those getting the goods, which reportedly included glimpses of the girls “private areas.” And while serving coffee while wearing a bikini may be legal in Washington, serving it wearing pretty much anything less than that is definitely not. It’s a thin line, yes, but an important one.
Those of you not living in the fair land of my youth may not be familiar with the “bikini coffee stand” phenomenon, to which I can only say “Good for you, but I’ll bet where you’re from has sleazy crap, too.” For the record, “bikini coffee stands” are exactly what they sound like — small, dingy pre-fab sheds containing a malfunctioning espresso machine and an attractive but often cold young woman in a bikini serving coffee to drive-through patrons. Sad, sad drive-through patrons. If this sounds completely depressing and the polar opposite of sexy, you’re on the right track, though it should be noted that the stands are about a million times less erotic in practice than in principle.
Police in Everett, Washington, a suburb of Seattle, put about eight hours of undercover work into “Operation Show Stopper,” their plan to curb the strip teases going on at two Grab-N-Go Espresso locations. While the shows were paid for by patrons buying a cup of coffee — or in some cases just driving through for a quick peek — they reportedly weren’t the only ones getting a glimpse as drivers on the road and children at a nearby school could also view the shows. Because apparently strip mall parking lots are not the greatest places on Earth to look at boobs — who knew?
The sting resulted in the arrests of four baristas late last month, but police weren’t content with getting the employees, arresting their employers this week. It’s not the first time Grab-N-Go has been implicated in this sort of shadiness, either. In 2009, when Wheeler’s father owned the coffee shacks, five employees were charged with prostitution while working there. Bill Wheeler Sr. disappeared in 2010, and hasn’t been heard from since.
While the baristas — who claim they were being paid no wages for the work, and took home only what tips they made serving coffee and… other stuff — are facing misdemeanor counts, Wheeler could be looking at a felony rap for sexually exploiting a minor, which is a really good reason not to hire a 16-year-old at your outdoor strip club/coffee shed, in case you needed one. We really hope you didn’t need one.
(via Everett Herald, image from Grab-N-Go Espresso’s Facebook page)
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