Community opposition to bikini coffee shop proposal takes flight

Community opposition to bikini coffee shop proposal takes flight

in Community/Featured/Headline and

Growing community opposition to a bikini coffee shop in Redwood City has involved divine intervention.

Sister Christina Heltsley of St. Francis Center is mounting opposition to a plan to open a Pink Pantherz Espresso at 2797 El Camino Real in North Fair Oaks, the space formerly occupied by the old Caffino. Pink Pantherz is a small coffee shop chain established in 2014 where baristas wear bikinis. It has locations in Fremont, Modesto, and Fresno.

Heltsley is joined by a number of residents who say the type of business is inappropriate for the location. Kids pass it twice daily on their way to Selby Lane, the local public school, Heltsley says.

In a Facebook post Sunday, Heltsley called upon community members to pen letters to Pink Pantherz owner Jose L. Carmona requesting that he nix plans to open at 2797 El Camino Real. Her post mentions the property is owned by “very highly resourced people living in Atherton.” That appears to reference the Hiller family, best known for their display of aircraft and helicopters at the Hiller Aviation Museum, who appear to be branching out in the display business with the controversial bikini coffee shop proposal.  Online property records, including the P.O. Box address listed in county property tax records, indicate owners of the site are members of the Hiller family. Calls to family members have not been returned.

Heltsley previously spoke against the plan at a recent San Mateo County Board of Supervisors meeting and has also made her case to local media.

“In truth, this kind of place would never be allowed in a more economically advantaged community,” she said. “Our community is filled with hard working and wonderful families, we so do not want to be a dumping ground for trashy places.”

Some community members support the business. Carmona told the San Mateo Daily Journal that his business has been involved in the communities where it operates and intends to comply with local regulations. KPIX 5 visited the Pink Pantherz location in Fremont, where manager Sarah Perrin says the business employs confident women serving quality coffee.

“If you go out to a beach, you’re seeing girls in bikinis,” Perrin said, adding she was personally shocked by the community opposition. “At the end of the day, it’s just coffee. There’s nothing that goes beyond us handing you over a drink.”

But with menu options such as “Panty Dropper,” “Booty Call” and “Hard On,” community members disagree with the beach comparison.

“It’s a disgrace when all the children go past that place in the morning,” resident Janet Davis said at the county board meeting.

The county is currently reviewing the business owner’s application — and yes, employee attire has been a point of concern.

“The proposed employee attire would be considered an adult entertainment business (specifically, cabaret) under County planning code,” County spokeswoman Michelle Durand told Climate in an email. “Planning Director Steve Monowitz has informed the owner that to comply with zoning code,  employee dress must completely cover their bottoms from a point below the buttocks and their entire breasts from a point immediately above the areola. If and when the business does open, the County will work closely with the owner to ensure compliance. Failure to do so will be a code violation.”

In an effort to comply, Carmona told the Daily Journal he would be proposing new uniforms for the Redwood City location.