Opposition in Forest Grove coffee clash ready to fight at City Hall

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: DOUG BURKHARDT - Limor Geislers sign supporting the Family Friendly Sugar Shack implies her opposition to the Dream Girl stand five blocks east. Geisler was one of at least 20 people who participated in a cash mob at the coffee kiosk, which will likely extend to other local coffee stands down the road, participants said.Tami Doner got an emergency call Monday morning from her daughter, who was manning Doner’s Sugar Shack coffee kiosk at 19th Avenue and Main Street in Forest Grove: “Mom, I don’t know what’s going on but you’d better get down here.”

Doner arrived to find a line of cars and a crowd of people milling around her stand.

It was Forest Grove’s first “cash mob,” which is somewhat like a flash mob but with economic intent.

“We’re not flashing,” said organizer Barb Smith. “That’s taken care of.”

Smith was referring to the catalyst for the cash mob, Dream Girl Espresso, a bikini-barista business that opened July 25 at 19th and Elm Street.

The opposition to Dream Girl started with a small sidewalk protest, but has grown and intensified since the baristas shed their bikinis for pasties and see-through underwear, accessories more associated with strip clubs.

The bikinis have returned since then, for at least some of the time, but the possibility of pasties has inflamed an already heated discussion, sparking meetings, groups, petitions, creative protesting and massive Facebook debate.

“The people who are protesting this stand REALLY need to get a life. C’mon now. Do we live in the dark ages or what? And with all the bad stuff going on in the world, THIS is what people go out and protest. There is nothing lewd going on here. These girls are just trying to make a living. And if they get more tips because they are in a bikini or lingerie, more power to them,” wrote Amy Forrest.

“These girls DO earn over $200/day in tips, and that may be conservative. So the ‘business’ is not so much coffee. That’s the cover. The business is a peep show,” wrote Eric Canon. “The window of the ‘coffee’ place is clearly visible, and the girls are also outside for smokes and fresh air. So they are barely dressed, and the money involves what they show, so the enterprise is a strip place.”

Bikini barista Tori Walker, who wore a hoodie and shorts on her break outside the stand Tuesday, said her tips ranged from a quarter to a dollar and were no more than the average tips at Starbucks, where some of her friends work.

“Depends who comes by,” Walker said. “Some don’t tip at all and that’s fine.”

A dozen people met at Canon’s house Sunday night to organize their opposition. Some created a petition to remove Dream Girls.

“The coffee shack Licensing was attained through the City of Forest Grove permitting department and presented as a bikini barista; Make no mistake it is not a bikini barista, it’s a nude barista in a visible location for minor children to see,” the petition states.

It refers people to a Facebook page for “Forest Grove Residents against NUDE barista, LEAVE OUR TOWN!,” which had about 300 members by Tuesday. Organizers plan to turn in petitions to City Manager Michael Sykes Monday, Aug. 12, for consideration at the city council meeting that evening.

Dream Girl supporters also plan to attend the meeting.

Barb Smith came up with the cash mob idea as a way to protest proactively. She did it on her own first, stopping by Doner’s coffee kiosk last week and declaring her support.

After the meeting at Canon’s home, Smith sent out a Facebook call for the cash mob.

The goal, she said, is to “support an existing local, woman-owned coffee kiosk, to support the businesses we want in town — instead of protesting a business I don’t care for.”

The announcement drew 20 to 25 people right off the bat, including one woman who paid $10 for a latte and another who left an $18 tip.

“I don’t drink coffee,” said Patricia Edmonds as she joined the throng Monday morning. “I’m going to have to figure out something else to drink.”

Doner enjoyed it while it lasted. Monday morning, her daughter was talking about how she needed money to move into a safer apartment.

“Don’t worry. We’ll find some way,” Doner assured her.

By 10 a.m., the Sugar Shack had quadrupled its usual take for that time of day — all of it going toward the move. “The Lord really works in mysterious ways,” Doner said.

Kathleen Rohde contributed to this story.

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