BILLINGS — A new bikini barista coffeehouse has opened up in Billings Heights, and business is booming despite some backlash from the community.
For barista Harley Sirrine, it’s a regular Monday at work. But this isn’t your typical coffee shop. Unlike other baristas, Sirrine is in a bikini.
“It’s awesome. Seeing almost double the customers in a shift. It’s exciting, it’s fun,” Sirrine said.
Up until two weeks ago, Steady Grinding Bikini Baristas at 2376 Main Street looked like any other coffee shop in town. Owners KC Johnson and Taeler Hirsch got the idea for a bikini barista after traveling to Seattle.
“I’ve seen one on every corner. Each one of them had a line, and I decided to do it here,” Johnson said.
Like the name of their coffee shop, business has been a steady grind since the change. “Yup, tips went way up,” said barista Kaitlynne Booth.
Johnson says their business has quadrupled since they rebranded.
“Business has been great. I mean so great, we’re expanding very soon,” Johnson said.
Not everyone loves the concept. Kari Jones owns a business just down the road.
“I just feel like with the 'Me Too' movement that it’s very distasteful. That it’s actually disrespectful to women,” Jones said.
As a mother herself, she’s also concerned about the safety of the girls.
“With sex trafficking in Billings right now, and how horrible it is, I just feel like it’s a safety issue for the girls that work that as well,” said Jones.
Johnson says they’ve taken safety into account.
“They are armed with pepper spray, they are armed with tasers. There’s locks on the door, there’s a panic button,” said Johnson.
These baristas agree, they say they love their job even if it means the coffee comes with a cup of controversy.
“There’s a lot more women that come through just because of everything going on with women now. We’re out here supporting each other and doing everything we can to support body positivity,” said barista Sarah Sullivan.
The baristas said they feel empowered as they work.
“I also really like just the body positivity part of it, all the girls that work here just hype everyone up. And all the customers are so nice to us all,” said Booth.
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