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No Barista Boyz — yet — but a bikini drive-thru Ladybug Espresso has, indeed, opened on Capitol Hill

With Seattle’s cold snap, it might seem like a tough week to get your start as a bikini barista on Broadway but the street’s 80-square-foot drive-thru shack is actually pretty cozy, CHS is told.

“With the heaters, it’s actually hot in there,” a representative for Ladybug Espresso tells CHS. The Puget Sound region chain of 30-something bikini espresso stands has quietly expanded to Capitol Hill, opening on Presidents Day at Broadway and Harrison.

The drive-thru stand offers a full selection of coffee drinks and, yes, a smiling barista in fancy underwear or a skimpy bathing suit to send you on your way. The pay is good, the rep said, telling CHS Ladybug baristas make more than minimum wage. The tips are better.

This is not the first bikini coffee stand on Capitol Hill. In spring of 2010, Barista Boyz did its thing at 12th and Madison for a few months before shuttering.

CHS asked Ladybug if the company would consider hiring men or transgender baristas to run its new Capitol Hill stand. It would be a company first.

“We haven’t really explored doing that,” the rep tells CHS, “but we’re definitely open to hire anyone willing and open to selling a good cup of coffee.”

This tiny business space has received more than its fair share of attention over the years. The Broadway coffee shack spun through a few owners since longtimer TNT Espresso closed in 2016. The latest venture, Kosmic Koffee, lasted less than a year. Messages to its owner about the switch to Ladybug were not immediately returned.

UPDATE 2/23/18: Kosmic Koffee owner Valerie Pettersen tells CHS that there is another part of the Ladybug Broadway story that involves her blood, sweat, and tears — and about $50,000 worth of work and equipment. “I put my heart and soul into this fucking little building, keeping the same essence it always had,” Pettersen said Friday. She ran Kosmic and did the work to put it back into business as a Broadway coffee shack, she tells CHS, and returned from recent travel for a funeral to find the locks changed and a new business in the stand. Pettersen said she’s facing a challenge getting her stuff back and proving that it wasn’t abandoned. She contacted a lawyer this week. Our calls to landowner Ron Amundson, owner of several commercial properties across Capitol Hill, have gone unanswered. UPDATE x2: Amundson tells CHS he decided to change tenants because he was unable to reach Pettersen and that rent was going unpaid on the stand. He had the equipment installed appraised — the value of $1,750 was part of the new lease with Ladybug.

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The Ladybug rep tells CHS it wasn’t on the hunt for a Capitol Hill location — the location found them when the landlord wanted to make the area more active as problems with camping and graffiti have increased and was looking for “a business model that will succeed” after a string of coffee entrepreneurs had cycled through the space in recent years. The stand’s grandfathered status as an active drive-thru business was highly desirable for Ladybug’s niche.

Upgrades to the stand and the parking lot will be part of Ladybug’s new investment in the corner. The brand’s ladybug polka-dots will be added to the new red paint job and new signage is coming. Each shack is fully tricked out with a complete security system including cameras, motion detectors, and panic buttons. The bikini barista industry faces security challenges beyond those of a standard coffee stand though attacks like this recent incident in Kent are rare. It also has been able to wrestle legal challenges to a draw — so far — in court thanks to the 14th Amendment.

Business has been slow at the newly opened Broadway stand this week. Most people walk by without noticing the drive-thru side is open. The company expects regulars to begin stopping through the stand more frequently as word spreads. Many of the baristas do their own social media marketing and let fans know about their upcoming shifts.

For locals on foot, the stand’s sidewalk-side street window will also be put back into action, the Ladybug representative said.

Ladybug Espresso is located at 324 Broadway E. Hours are 4 AM to 7 PM.

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28 thoughts on “No Barista Boyz — yet — but a bikini drive-thru Ladybug Espresso has, indeed, opened on Capitol Hill

    • Gender is not orientation. “Orientation” is a term used most commonly as regards “sexual orientation” as in who you are attracted to. That is of course irrelevant to hiring here. The reporter asked if in addition to hiring women, the company would hire men or transgender people (so the reporter was asking about gender and sex). Note that “transgender” is an umbrella term that may include binary and nonbinary transgender people. Trans women are women, so I don’t think the reporter was asking about that, but about men (who may be trans or cis men) and possibly gender-nonconforming or nonbinary transgender people.

    • Probably the same services that are on offer at the other 30-something Ladybug Espresso stands. i.e., espresso-making services.

    • I was attempting, and failing, to respond to nettles’s comment: “Hey ladybug, if you’re reading this, please hire queer folks!!!!” rather than to anything that the reporter mentioned.

    • Ladybug doesn’t have 30 locations because they have the best coffee. They’re selling a bit of ogling and flirting with their coffee. There might be enough straight-guy construction workers around Capitol Hill to keep them busy on those customers alone. But Nettles’s point is if they want to draw local LGBT customers (if that market is even interested), they’ll do better if they employ some baristas that reflect the diversity of the neighborhood.

  1. Lovin this. Capitol Hill needs more edgy, adult businesses. It’s gotten pretty boring and lame with all the Poke joints, trendy gyms, and Microsoft connector buses.

  2. This may sound weird in the city, but as a parent to a small kid a drive thru coffee stand is GOLD. I don’t care what you’re wearing as long as the coffee is good and I don’t have to wrestle my toddler out of the car seat for a 2 minute stopover. I for one am stoked for this drive thru to be back in business. 🙌👯

  3. A development wave grips Seattle for years; yet here on this Broadway corner Teriyaki Wok clings to life in a parking lot shared with some zip cars and an espresso stand. Next door, the Broadway Grill has been empty for years.

  4. This is not going to be a draw for the many gay men who walk along Broadway….haha.

    We don’t need more sleazy stuff in our neighborhood. There’s more than enough already.

  5. In regards to the previous place…It was NEVER open. I tried to go there on many occasions to find it closed so it is no surprise that they thought it had been abandoned. If they can do well more power to them!!!! I hope they hire some guys but I doubt that.

    • I remember when they reopened I was so excited for my drive thru to be back! I seriously never saw them open again after that first chance encounter.

  6. Likely will just attract guys driving through with there dicks out

    I don’t see anyone over at Vivace flashing a titty and they make a TON of cash

    Seriously if you cant make a buck serving coffee with your clothes on then its a shitty cup of coffee and the business isn’t viable. Go away!