Business booms for bikini barista cafe in the highlands despite backlash

BILLINGS — A new bikini barista cafe has opened in Billings Heights, and business is booming despite some backlash from the community.

For barista Harley Sirrine, it’s an ordinary Monday at work. But it’s not your typical cafe. Unlike the other baristas, Sirrine is in a bikini.

” It’s awesome. See almost double the number of customers in one shift. It’s exciting, it’s fun,” Sirrine said.

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Until two weeks ago, Steady Grinding Bikini Baristas at 2376 Main St. looked like any other coffee shop in town. Owners KC Johnson and Taeler Hirsch came up with the idea for a bikini-clad barista after traveling to Seattle.

“I saw one on every street corner. Each of them had a line, and I decided to do it here,” Johnson said.

Like the name of their cafe, business since the change has been a steady grind.

“Yes, the tips have gone up,” said barista Kaitlynne Booth.

Johnson says their business has quadrupled since switching brands.

“Business has been great. I mean so good, we’re growing very soon,” Johnson said.

Not everyone likes the concept. Kari Jones owns a business just down the street.

“I just feel like with the Me Too movement, it’s very unpleasant. It’s actually disrespectful to women,” Jones said.

As a mother herself, she is also concerned about the girls’ safety.

“With the sex trafficking in Billings right now, and how awful it is, I just feel like it’s a safety issue for working girls too,” Jones said.

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Johnson says they took safety into account.

“They’re armed with pepper spray, they’re armed with tasers. There are locks on the door, there is a panic button,” Johnson said.

These baristas agree, they say they love their jobs even if it means coffee comes with a cup of controversy.

“There are a lot more women getting off just because of everything that’s going on with women now. We are here to support each other and do everything we can to support body positivity,” said barista Sarah Sullivan.

Baristas said they felt empowered while working.

“I also really like the body part of it, all the girls working here are just hyping everyone up. And all the customers are so nice to all of us,” Booth said.