Bikini baristas cover up for grand opening on the Peninsula

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Bikini clad baristas had to cover up for the grand opening of a new coffee shop on the Peninsula after pushback from the community. (KGO-TV)

After months of debate within the community, Pink Pantherz Espresso opened for business Friday in the Fair Oaks area near Redwood City on El Camino Real.

"The girls that work here are exuberating confidence. We're exuberating body empowerment and loving yourself and being comfortable in your own skin," said manager Sarah Perrin.

RELATED: Lingerie, bikini-clad baristas stir up controversy at proposed coffee shop near Redwood City

But getting to this point was the result of a compromise between the business owner, Jose Carmona, and those who just didn't see eye-to-eye with him.

Sister Christina Heltsley, executive director of the nearby St. Francis Center, was upset when she learned about plans for the baristas to wear only bikinis on the job.



"We are not happy with the objectification of women, the sexualization of any product, so that it will sell," said Heltsley.

More than 1,500 residents signed a petition, with many of them writing letters to the San Mateo County board of supervisors demanding that the business cover up its employees. For now, baristas will wear tanks and shorts, which is a different set-up from the three other Pink Pantherz espresso stands in Northern California.

"The negativity was louder than the positively at this point, and we just decided to go ahead and make some changes for now and see how it goes on in the future," said Carmona.

But if business isn't good, Carmona says he'll consider bringing back the bikini uniform, which for the most part is legal.

"It's not that we want to have a we/they with Mr. Carmona, we want a we/we," said Heltsley.

San Mateo County Supervisor Warren Slocum represents the district where the stand is located. He said: "This was a great example of democracy in action at the local level and of course, the community, and all of us I think, shared a common ground, about values relating to this establishment as it was previously configured."

The owner has also changed the names of some of the drinks to be more family friendly.
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