Thinking about starting a bikini coffee stand in your town? In this post we evaluate the advantages, disadvantages, and answer your burning questions about this business model.
Like any other business, you want to conduct significant due diligence before making a 5 – 6 figure investment. Needless to say this business model isn’t for everyone and you’ll want to know exactly what you’re getting into before opening the doors to a bikini startup.
While the marketing approach of using scantily clad women to sell coffee is completely legal, it’s a controversial business in many communities. For better or worse these coffee shops garner a lot more attention than your typical coffee stand.
Even if you open in a welcoming community there will inevitably be folks who feel the business immoral or that you’re exploiting female sexuality for financial gain. You’ll need to get comfortable with and expect this perception if you own this kind of business.
Related Reading: Why Do Coffee Shops Fail? 232 Owners Share Top Reasons
A spokesperson from the City of Everett in Washington summarizes the perception that many have of this business model stating in a Fox News report, “We know that criminal activity isn’t occurring at every bikini barista stand. But our experience has been that this type of business model does tend to allow for that criminal activity.” You can watch the full story below.
Here are some of frequently asked questions and answers about starting a bikini barista stand. Click on the question to jump directly to the answer:
- How much can bikini baristas make?
- What is a bikini barista stand?
- Advantages of a bikini barista coffee shop?
- What are the disadvantages?
- Do you need increased security to operate?
- How much will it cost to open a bikini coffee shop?
- Is it legal to open a bikini coffee shop?
- Are franchise opportunities available?
How much can bikini barista’s make?
According to the coffee shops contacted for this piece, it’s common for a bikini barista to make $100 – $200 per shift in tips. These baristas also earn minimum wage that fluctuates depending on the state. The federal minimum wage per hour is $7.25 in the United States.
These tips can add up to a respectable overall wage, making this an appealing element of the job. In general, there’s an understanding among customers these baristas should be tipped at a higher rate because of the scenery.
This segment does much better in tips compared to the typical Starbucks barista. While tips vary store to store, walking out with $5 – $20 per shift is pretty standard. You can learn more about the average tips and how they are split by past and present employee reviews on Indeed.com. As you can see, bikini baristas will easily make 3 – 5 times above average to make and serve a cup of coffee.
What is a bikini barista stand?
A bikini barista stand is almost identical to an ordinary coffee shop. The main difference is customer experience for guests and hiring requirements of staff.
These bikini stands have all the same equipment and operational expenses of ordinary coffee shop like espresso machines, coffee makers, and cups.
The appeal of course is less on the quality of the roast, but the opportunity to view an attractive, young woman wearing very little clothing.
Advantages of a bikini barista coffee shop?
The big advantage of operating this type of business is this time tested marketing approach: sex sells! Young and beautiful women will never go out of style whether you’re selling cars, beer, or in this case cups of coffee.
For better or worse your little coffee stand will become well known and discussed in the community you serve. Not all of it will be positive, but word will get out about your business especially if you’re the first to market in your city with the concept.
This is a business model that generates attention organically, especially in the early days of opening the business when you can be interviewed by newspapers, radio, and television about your business.
What are the disadvantages?
Here are some notable challenges owning this type of business you should be prepared for.
Public Relations: As described in detail above there’s always going to be a certain percentage of your market that isn’t going to like you. There will also inevitably be complaints about employees wearing too little. These are aspects of operating the business that you will need to be prepared to deal with and respond to on a regular basis.
Hiring Challenges: Traditional coffee shops have the advantage of being able to hire pretty much anyone young, old, male, female, it doesn’t matter. If you can brew a respectable latte and are friendly, you’re hired!
This isn’t the case with a bikini coffee shop. The entire appeal of the product / service is to be served by a young and attractive female employee. From a practicality standpoint this really narrows down the talent pool of qualified candidates. Even if you are able to identify a good candidate, they might not want to work at your establishment for personal reasons.
Related Reading: 57 Global Coffee Industry Statistics and Consumption Trends
Customer Issues: All service businesses have customer issues or complaints. But this type of business can expect more customer issues than an ordinary business. What’s intended to be a fun experience could be taken too far by a small percentage of patrons.
Down right rude comments will be made toward your baristas and you’ve got to create a process for handling these sorts of situations. You need to set clear expectations for when the line has been crossed at your establishment.
Do you need increased security to operate this business?
You need to put the safety and security of your staff first in any business. But with this model in particular you’ll want to put a lot of thought, planning, and outside consultation to create a safe work environment.
Some security best practices include the following:
- Make sure the coffee stand and surrounding area is well lit.
- Make sure security cameras are in place both inside the coffee shop and outside.
- Make sure that employees are walked and from their car to ensure they get home safely.
- Hire a security company to routinely check up and monitor the business at night.
- Consult a professional security firm and law enforcement for additional ideas.
How much will it cost to open a bikini coffee shop?
The startup cost of a bikini coffee shop will be identical to investment of starting a traditional coffee business:
- Retail Coffee Shop: $100,000 – $300,000
- Coffee Truck: $50,000 – $75,000
- Drive-Thru Coffee Stand: $40,000 – $100,000
These are variable costs depending on the type of equipment and specific location you plan to open the business.
Is it legal to open a bikini coffee shop?
It’s legal to own and operate a bikini barista stand in all 50 states. There is nothing illegal about this business model at a federal level.
Here’s where you could run into challenges locally getting your business off the ground. Some management companies in charge of retail lease spaces might not want a business like this operating on their property. These lease management companies are 100% within their rights to deny your lease application because they don’t feel the business is a good fit.
Additionally, the desired city you may plan to operate may not approve your business license if it doesn’t fit into their zoning require code requirements. Other businesses with influence in the community may also object to your business citing fears of the type of clientele the business will attract or overall safety.
Bottom line, while it’s completely above board to operate this business, you might experience challenges locally getting a license to operate. As a result, you may need to be flexible in the exact location of the business if you decide to move forward with this venture.
Are franchise opportunities available?
Believe it or not there are franchise bikini espresso opportunities for individuals that want to have formal training and a standardized process for operating this business. One such example is Bottoms Up Espresso with locations in Chandler, AZ and Modesto, Calif. And yes, they do have an annual calendar for sale in case you were wondering.
The company website reports an average gross profit between 58% – 68% per location. Expenses include a franchise fee of $35,100 – $39,000, Royalty fee of 6%, and National Ad fee of 2%.
Owning a bikini coffee shop is not for everyone, but we hope to have answered your biggest questions about the business. If you’re thinking about starting a coffee shop, read our complete startup guide on the topic.