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When it comes to coffee, Hillsboro is not Forest Grove

What works for one community doesn’t necessarily mean it’s appropriate for a neighboring community. That is what the owners of Hillsboro-based Dream Girl Espresso (it’s known as “Bikini Coffee” at its Hillsboro location) are learning as they deal with a small hornet’s nest of protest following the July 25 opening of their second coffee kiosk, this one in Forest Grove.

It may not seem that a coffee shop would create controversy, but Dream Girl Espresso is not your typical purveyor of coffee.

In general, we like to see new businesses opening around the area because it’s a sign of healthy economic growth. But we do not believe Dream Girl — in its current format, at least — is a good fit for the Forest Grove community.

The hook with this particular coffee house is not necessarily the coffee, but the fact that customers are served by women who are close to naked. We’re not talking about women wearing bikinis here, because bikinis would not be that unusual. But some of the servers have been seen wearing pasties and see-through panties — something you’d expect to see in a strip club, perhaps, in a sleazy section of Portland or Seattle, but not at a drive-through coffee shop on the edge of a quiet neighborhood in Forest Grove. And that’s where this business crosses the line.

In Forest Grove, Dream Girl is in a highly visible public location in a Plaid Pantry parking lot along 19th Avenue. The Hillsboro version is off TV Highway, but it’s set back from the road in a parking lot that is not readily accessible and much less visible. As far as we know, there have been no protests surrounding Hillsboro’s Bikini Coffee, given its relatively obscure location, the fact that it’s far from residential areas, and is not right next to a public sidewalk and kids going by on their bicycles do not see the employees.

A number of family-minded individuals in Forest Grove have taken exception to seeing baristas in pasties and panties at the new business, and are asking the Forest Grove City Council to pull the plug. Those who object contend the business license was issued on deceptive grounds, because the business characterizes itself as a “bikini barista” even though at times the servers have obviously been wearing much less than bikinis.

Further, a help wanted ad posted on Craigslist specifies “dancing experience would be a plus” in getting a job serving coffee at Dream Girl. Maybe we’re a bit naive, but what does dancing have to do with serving coffee from a kiosk? For that matter, even the name of the business tells a lot: It’s “Dream Girl,” not “Dream Coffee.” Indeed, all the signs seem to indicate that this business is much more about hot bodies than hot coffee.

A public parking lot visible to people of all ages is not an appropriate place for adult entertainment, and it appears that is largely what Dream Girl is selling.

If the Dream Girl baristas are going to continue to wear pasties and transparent undies in public, the city of Forest Grove may step in. Better yet, the owners will realize they have gone too far and understand that not every community is the same. In Forest Grove, they need to clean up their act, which would be in the best interests of all concerned.



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