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Is Federal Way ready for bikini baristas?

Espresso 320, formerly Lindy Lou
Espresso 320, formerly Lindy Lou's 'Too' coffee stand, located on the corner of Southwest 320th Street and Hoyt Road Southwest, suddenly closed over the Halloween weekend. There is no notice posted to clarify what may replace the coffee stand, but former customers report staff there told them a bikini barista hut is moving in.
— image credit: Jacinda Howard/The Mirror

The sign affixed to the tea-kettle shaped building in Twin Lakes reads "Lindy Lou's 'Too': Espresso and..."

And what? Bikini baristas? That's what some Federal Way folks are now wondering. The espresso shop, located at 4627 SW 320th St., suddenly closed over Halloween weekend. Federal Way resident Kim Egge said her daughter recently visited the coffee stand and was told its current operations are being replaced by a bikini barista business.

On Oct. 29, a barista, who did not give her name, was asked about the rumor. She shrugged off the report as hearsay. She suspected her manager may have made remarks to Egge's daughter. The barista concluded the customer must have misunderstood her sarcastic manager.

She laughed off the circumstances and said Espresso 320, which replaced Lindy Lou's "Too" this past September, would not be closing, nor would it be transforming into a bikini barista hut. There's plenty of those already, she said.

But on Nov. 2, the stand was vacant and its contents emptied out of the building.

No recent applications for a business license for that location have been submitted, said Cathy Rossick, accounting technician with the city. The business's owner, Racine Maroni, has not notified the city about any changes to the business, she said. If Maroni continues to own the coffee shop, she would not be required to obtain a new business license to operate a bikini barista hut from that location, Rossick said. Maroni could not be reached for comment.

Though Espresso 320's future is unclear, some neighbors, former customers and employees at nearby businesses are concerned. The jolly-looking tea kettle is within two miles of Twin Lakes Elementary and Green Gables Elementary schools.

Egge lives near the espresso stand. She's the head of her neighborhood block watch. If bikini-clad baristas are soon seen bopping about, Egge and neighbors will protest, she said. Scantily-dressed baristas would be a better fit away from school grounds, Egge said.

"It's not illegal. There's just a place for it," she said.

Across the street at The Pet Market at Dash Point, employee Katie McLennan said customers to the pet goods store have already begun asking questions about the espresso stand's mysterious closure. McLennan said she does not know why the business shut down, but does not wish to see bikini baristas move in.

"I hope the rumors aren't true," she said.

If the rumors do prove true, McLennan also questions the location of the stand.

"That's strange, kids walking to school past that," she said. "Parents will have lots of questions."

Bikini espresso shops are not be in violation of any City of Federal Way municipal codes, city spokeswoman Linda Farmer said.

"Under no circumstances does the city regulate the attire of (employees at) private businesses," Farmer said.

If lewd behavior takes place at a business, then police would step in, she said.

The city issued a business license for Lindy Lou's "Too" in 2008. The espresso stand was in business from June 2008 to July 2009. Maroni applied for a business license at the location in August. Espresso 320 opened Sept. 11.

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