Controversy is brewing over a new coffee cart in San Diego.
Customers rolling up to the "Sneak a Peek" café at the corner of Balboa Avenue and Clairemont Drive can get a latte handed to them by a barista in a bikini.
Owner, Shadi Farsi just turned 20 five days ago. Her birthday landed the day before her new business opened last Friday and she's found herself in the middle of a community controversy.
For her, dressing in a bikini to go to work doesn’t seem strange. “Not really, I’m very comfortable with myself,” she said. “It just comes naturally.”
While wearing the bikini is old hat, being a barista is new. Farsi took a semester off from college to learn the business and launch her own company.
She originally wanted to open up a little coffee shop downtown but soon realized it would be an expensive investment. Her friend, who once worked for a bikini coffee stand in Seattle, suggested they start up a similar cart here in San Diego.
Now, Farsi is working 15-hour days, is poised to hire two new employees within the month and hopes to open more than a dozen stands across Southern California.
Farsi who believes she “brings a lot of smiles to faces” is surprised at some of the criticism levied against her and her cart by local residents.
One local resident complained about girls “hanging out on the corner… with signs soliciting business for their ‘coffee cart’ and walking up to cars stopped at the red light handing out coupons."
“Personally, I’ve had two encounters where women with their children in their car were cussing at me,” Farsi said. “I just waved.”
With several schools in the area some parents are concerned it's sending the wrong message.
“It sends the wrong message to our young girls, that it’s okay to be semi-nude in public,” said Clairemont resident Lourdes Marcus. “I believe that kind of behavior belongs at the beach, on the boardwalk, the sand. Perfect. Not on our streets.”
Clairemont High School kids walk by the intersection to get to school every day. We caught at least one student "sneaking a peek" of their own.
When kids come up Farsi said she asks them how they’re doing in school and tells them to get good grades. “I’m very encouraging and I’m trying to make a positive effect on this community and I think I’m doing a great job,” she said.
Is this all legal? They have the correct permits posted inside the cart.
Farsi said San Diego police officers have stopped by the cart to check on the situation after receiving phone calls complaining of naked women on the street.
“If we were naked, there’d be dead stop traffic,” she said.
Officers, understaffed as they are, curiously managed to check out the complaints three days in a row. Officers found everything in check. They also left a business card with employees just in case they need any official police help for anything.
One woman stopped by to see what all the fuss was about. She had gotten an email claiming the women were dressed in bras and thongs. While waiting for her order, she was more than polite even remarking on Farsi's outfit. “You must be very cold,” she said.
Drinks are $2.50 to $5 with tips encouraged. If you stop by to order, it's best not to be in too big of a hurry. From watching the pace at which the women work, your coffee could take a little longer than say, at nearby Starbucks.
What you will get is personal attention promises Farsi.
“I think people are taking it way too seriously and they just need to relax," she said. "There are a lot more things in life and in this community that needs a lot more help than a little bikini coffee stand.”
Where is this you ask? Here’s the link for exact location but don’t tell anyone we gave it to you. It’ll be just between us.