REDWOOD CITY, Calif.(KTVU) - A new coffee shop opened Friday in Redwood City, but controversy surrounds Pink Pantherz Espresso because of the owner's plans to have female baristas serve customers in bikinis.
Neighbors complained to San Mateo County saying the business doesn't fit in with the community, so the owner made some changes, for now.
On the grand opening the coffee shop was met with protests on El Camino Real because the idea of scantily-clad baristas has some people upset.
"We decided to go with the tank top and the shorts to be more appropriate just for the first day, but were hoping that next week maybe we can have our bikinis," said Brianna Dale, a barista at Pink Pantherz.
With locations in Modesto, Fresno and Fremont owner Jose Carmona didn't expect a backlash, but residents who got word of the opening petitioned the county with 2,000 signatures to oppose the business.
"I think it's their opinion. They have the right to protest as we have the right to run a business. We're not degrading women at all. We're empowering women," said Carmona.
For now, Carmona has caved to pressure in agreement with the County. Servers at the Redwood City location are wearing shorts and tank tops instead of bikinis. He even made changes to a racy menu.
"The Jay Dropper used to be the Panty Dropper. The Triple Threat used to be the Threesome," said Carmona.
Nonetheless, business was booming and some neighbors like the idea.
"I don't think anything is wrong. They're dressed properly. They're not going around with bikinis on," said Irene Hanley of Redwood City.
But if you visit the Fremont location it's a much different story. You'll see baristas in lingerie, racy menus and a line up for coffee.
"What about when they go to the beach? Same thing...are they going to cover everybody?" said Jose Elias of Fremont, who was supporting the business with his daughter.
Audrey Writ, who works at the Fremont location said she's an actress and model and that the job opens up opportunities to other gigs.
"I think a lot of people are overreacting because it's not something they're used to. I think it's not okay to tell women they can't do something with their bodies. If they want to do it, they should be allowed to do it."
Back in Redwood City, where the protest took place, just two blocks away from the new Pink Pantherz Espresso location is an adult gentleman's club, which Jose Carmona finds ironic. He said he signed an agreement with county officials and has no problem appeasing the city and community for now.
Carmona said if the changes don't work for his business, he plans to bring bikinis back to the Redwood City location.