Perky Cups had its grand opening in November last year. The coffee shop distinguishes itself from the competition by having its female staff wear bikinis as uniforms while working.
The concept of scantily clad female staff was once the domain of smoky, seedy night clubs, although the idea quickly spread into the world of sports, including paintball. The idea of nearly-naked bodies has spread to fundraisers such as the Nearly Naked Run. These days, bikini baristas are generating all the controversy, with charges of prostitution laid against five 'sexspresso baristas' in the state of Washington last year, according to MSNBC.
It is not known if owner Jason Bernal was banking on the controversy surrounding the concept of bikini baristas when he decided to bring open his Aurora coffee shop. It is known that Bernal's business, Perky Cups, has been generating controvery in Aurora ever since Fox 31/KDVR reported on the grand opening last November. Fox31/KDVR was taken with the concept, posting 27 photographs from the opening online.
In April, Bernal sent his staff out into the streets, dressed in bikinis, to sell hot dogs, reported The Denver Channel. Calling the street staff the 'bikini weenie crew,' Bernal expected to have the women grilling hot dogs on the street at least every Wednesday during the spring and summer.
When the bikini weenie crew first hit the street, police reported a rash of calls from drivers who were allegedly concerned the scantily-clad women would cause an accident. The women are not only sent outside to sell hot dogs, but are also put out to attract business. And this outdoors promotion appears to be what has pushed Aurora Councillor Molly Markert over the edge.
Markert has launched a boycott of Perky Cups, said CBS4Denver. Markert collected around thirty signatures on a letter that expresses a concern the employees of Perky Cups might easily become victims of sexual crimes, and declares a boycott of the coffee shop and the other shops in the mall.
Markert's stand has not made her many friends, particularly because she has asked people to boycott Perky Cups and the other nearby businesses. Comments posted to Mercury News call Markert and her supporters "vindictive idiots," "jealous," and "women haters."
Other community observers, while opposing the concept of bikini baristas, supported Bernal's right to do business. In March the editor of the Aurora Sentinel, Dave Perry, wrote (in part) "... the reaction to the lame marketing attempt for a coffee shop that specializes in bikini-clad baristas wasn’t nearly as outrageous as was the public response... I’m siding with Bernal’s right to market his odd little coffee shop right out of existence ... Now don’t get me wrong. The whole idea of Perky Cups is pretty distasteful on a few levels. Just how bad is the coffee there that you have to have nearly-naked girls serving it up in hopes of getting people to come in and open their wallets? Sorry, but I’ve always felt the same way about Hooters restaurants..."
The uproar Perry referred to was the erection of a large sign for Perky Cups, installed outside the shop. The sign features a picture of a bikini-clad woman, according to a report from the Aurora Sentinel.
Everything about Perky Cups is reportedly perfectly legal, including the signage. It is not known if it is a conflict of interest for an elected municipal leader to instigate a boycott of a local business. However, judging from the comments submitted to the Aurora Sentinel from readers, many Aurora residents are indignant to learn one of their councillors is wasting time on trying to shut down a legal business instead of dealing with other, more pressing, municipal matters.