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Garden Grove cracks down on sexy coffee shops, bans nudity

May 11, 2011 | 11:11 am

 

Coffeehouses in parts of Orange County have become known not only for iced coffee and smoothies but for employing waitresses who serve those drinks in various states of undress, including women who wear sheer undergarments and pasties.

Now the Garden Grove City Council is cracking down on not only the skimpy attire and occasional nudity,  but also on the illegal gambling and smoking that police say is occurring in some of the city's 37 coffeehouses, mostly located in Little Saigon. More of these shops are in nearby Santa Ana and Westminster.

On Tuesday night, the council unanimously passed an amendment to an ordinance that would ban  smoking and gambling in the shops. The amendment, which could become effective by June 25, would also ban employees from exposing genitals and breasts.

In March, police raided 20 coffeehouses and arrested 23 people for illegal gambling and seized 186 "amusement devices," which are usually games such as Pac-Man rigged to become illegal gambling machines. Police also seized $145,000 in cash, believed to be related to gambling.

Garden Grove Police Chief Kevin Raney said it's almost impossible to tell the difference between a Pac-Man game and a blackjack machine. Technology has allowed a user to flip a switch or use an application on a smartphone to turn the games to illegal use.

He also said the indecent exposure of the women has gone too far. "It's just a business model," he said. "And a very inappropriate one." For years the women have served coffee in lacy lingerie, but over the past couple of months, the department has received complaints about the attire becoming more revealing.

Nguyen Uong, a 52-year-old programmer from Fountain Valley, said the shops are not good for the city's image.

"I strongly believe this is a disease," he said, adding that at a local shop, the waitresses' garments are so racy that the pelvic area is exposed through sheer underwear.

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-- Nicole Santa Cruz in Garden Grove

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