Cops Bust Nude Waitresses

It’s been a pretty open secret in Little Saigon that the law doesn’t apply at the 20 or so Vietnamese coffee shops in San Jose. Patrons can smoke without being asked to put out their cigarettes. And scandalously-clad waitresses are known to remove what little lingerie they wear — or give an occasional lap dance — for a good tip. The libertarian culture flourished even in times when San Jose had a more fully staffed and better paid police department and the murder rate was less than half of what it is this year. But in these tough and violent times, ticketing topless baristas or smoking law violators just hasn’t made it onto the radar.

Things changed Sunday night when uniformed police officers sauntered into Quyen Café on Tully Road at 8:30pm on Sunday night and spotted three females — aged 22, 22 and 23 — who were leaving little or nothing to the imagination. The three women were cited for public display of nudity, a violation of San Jose’s austere municipal code. The women were not arrested or named.

The clothing-optional work environment has been discussed in the media for months. A Tuoi Tre News report on Vietnews wrote on July 2, “The waitresses at Quyen on a recent weekday afternoon were in various stages of undress.” The San Francisco blog SFist snickered about San Jose’s coffee shops in its June 21 post, San Jose Has Nudie Coffee Shops.

A San Jose police department spokesman was paraphrased in a CBS 5 broadcast as saying that with San Jose’s skyrocketing homicide rate, “naked waitresses are just not a priority.” Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen complained on the same broadcast that waitresses were walking around “semi naked or complete naked”

On September 2, a poster to the website Yelp noted that “these girls are basically naked, serving coffee. ...When we walked in here,” she added, “it was dark and literally rows and rows of old men sitting on the side, just staring at the naked girl walking around. ... all of a sudden, the music went up and the lights dimmed and this old lady… took out flashlights and made her girls dance on the table! and all those gross old men where cheering and glaring and touching like they’ve never touched a woman before.”

After two months of media reports and complaints, San Jose Police Department headed down to Tully Road to see for themselves. With these three tickets, SJPD has sent a message: Keep your lingerie on, ladies.


  1. “…at the 20 or so Vietnamese coffee shops in San Jose. Patrons can smoke without being asked to put out their cigarettes.”

    This just in… the “where there’s smoke there’s crime” duo of Ken Yeager and Dave Cortese (who can say “yes we can!” in Vietnamese) will be rolling – stat!

    • Maybe the Chief is being directed by President Unland.  He was worried that one of the gals might have been the victim of the “most animalistic of urges.”  Let’s put gangs and homicides on hold.  Time to get thrills on the lightly dressed ladies in coffee shops.  Way to go Union and Chief

  2. A San Jose police department spokesman was paraphrased in a CBS 5 broadcast as saying that with San Jose’s skyrocketing homicide rate, “naked waitresses are just not a priority.”

    He’s right—what a waste of time and resources when we have a skyrocketing homicide rate.

  3. What is the beef?

    I have been assisting older male council members play tennis being topless.  They tell me they prefer it that way for some weird reason.

  4. A San Jose police department spokesman was paraphrased in a CBS 5 broadcast as saying that with San Jose’s skyrocketing homicide rate, “naked waitresses are just not a priority.”

    They should rethink that…

    About a year or so ago, there was a Vietnamese bar nestled on the corner of Berryessa and Capitol that had a murder by gunshot.  Only reason I knew about it was the bar was reported to have “Really great karaoke and naked waitresses”

    • R U claiming that there was a “murder by gunshot” at that Vietnamese bar BECAUSE there were naked waitresses?  Naked chicks abound at the various strip clubs and pole dancing venues around the county, all without “murders by gunshot”.  And there are “murders by gunshot” at many venues devoid of naked waitresses; e.g. all over Oakland and Richmond, and many in our very own East Side streets.

      The second hand smoke that apparently pervades these new school tittie coffee bars is far more dangerous than the naked waitresses.

      • No John,

        The club I’m referencing didn’t even have a ABC liquor license, yet served alcohol.  There’s a lot of things I’ve heard that go down in these clubs (do you *really* think it stops at them getting naked?)

        At least at a club like Pink Poodle, they’ve had years of experience in identifying trouble customers, and dealing with them appropriately.  These under the radar clubs have 0 experience (which is why I believe there was a murder at the one I’m referencing)

        Prostitution, gambling, underage drinking are just a few of the symptoms that seem pandemic amongst these clubs.

  5. The MAYOR and Council have the city out of control. These coffee shops are breeding grounds for crime… only a matter of time when homicide will be inside one of them.. Time to fire Fignone.

    William R. Smoke
    33 years in City Government

  6. Amazing… with all the prostitution moving into downtown, the Cops should patrol the streets of San Jose before citing someone for wearing a see through shirt.  Going after a crime like this is pointless…

  7. I think the cops are in a no win situation here.  They go into the place probably on a complaint to see if there is any validity to it.  They see three girls blatantly violating the law.  They have four choices.  Ignore it completely, give them a verbal warning, issue a citation, or arrest and book.

    If they ignore it, there would be many whiners who would say that the corrupt police are turning a blind eye to obvious crime. They would accuse the officers of just showing up to enjoy the show or get a phone number.  If they just give a verbal warning, perhaps the same allegation.  Accusations of leniency because the girls had nice boobs.  If they cite or book, complaints that there are far more serious crimes afoot and a waste of police resources.

    Somehow I also think that no matter what they did, there are some regulars here that would find fault with any one of their decisions.

    • I realize that you just woke up.  This has been going on for years. (Coffe shop nudity) The cops have just taken such a bad PR path they will never be winners.  Read the blogs and all the whining they do.  Wake up! The whole department is a hot mess including the union.  It’s more like Who’s on first with that organization.  Read “SIN CITY”

      • The cops will never get good PR as long as people’s wallets are thinner.  Reed has found a scapegoat for all of the city’s financial woes.  Those whining about a couple of cops writing a ticket for some topless bimbos are just using it as another excuse to snivel at the city identified official targets. 

        This story could just as easily be about a couple of citations written for jaywalking, dumping oil down a storm drain, not obtaining a permit for a building project, speeding in an industrial park, or any number of minor crimes that occur daily.  Somehow citizens think that the police should only focus on catching murderers, rapists, pedophiles, robbers, and burglars.  Every other crime should be ignored as inconsequential until everybody is rich again. 

        Obviously many of you have never owned a garden. The philosophy of “I’ll only pull the weeds when they get really big” never works out too well.

  8. Cops were answering a complaint by a council member. These coffee shops are well known for organized crime. Many a high tech chip robbery was hatched out at a coffee shop.  This is a minor deal tickets issued.  most of the bars have small rooms that customers can pay for sex with the girls.  Oh yea Some viet nail shops offer similar services.

    This is only the start the police department run by career police officers that were there to work for the citizens did a good job of controlling these incidents but as the mayor turns the community on the police so he can profit from a ball park try and picture the old days of bus loads of crack dealers from Oakland ridding the bus to 1st and Santa Clara to sell crack. When the mayor is done San Jose will look like a real inner city with all the crime. The cops that can leave will the rest won’t care and the residents will suffer.

    Great white hope ?  Reed is more like the great white $&@/ …

    • Big Deal:

      Are you serious? Are you in the VICE Unit? FYI, crime is hatched at Denny’s and the homes of thugs as well. The hype surrounding Viet coffee shops is years old unless you have specific knowledge. I agree with much of the rest of your comment but the prostitution issue re these places is alot of hype,…..FYI.

  9. Hmmmmmmmm wasn’t the police department fully staffed when they did the chip theft. Might have been an inside job I believe.  Are you saying that a full staffed department would have stopped that?  Have you looked at your crime stats from full staffing years and compared them.  Hows that for your dip an chips

  10. For those naysayers who believe police should be focused on violent crimes…would it change your mind (just a little) if a 16-year-old girl was caught waitressing topless at one of these Viet Café places?

    A fact to ponder.

  11. So the vietnamese community is the focus here, but the larger issue is the positive and negative tendencies in ethnic enclave communities.

    There’s a long, historic tradition of ethnic enclaves where new immigrants congregate and support each other with a critical mass created of folks who share the same background and speak the same language.  Over time, different ethnic groups arrive and replace older, more integrated ethnic groups who’se second and third generation are now Americanized and integrated.

    So some of the positive stuff is obvious, it helps new immigrants and even older immigrants to feel at home and comfortable within a bubble outside of the mainstream of busy american society.  It also helps to carry on traditions and keep people connected in sometimes meaningful ways, like the traditions around Japan town, etc.

    Negative side, however, there’s a tradition of being “apart” from the mainstream so much that the rule of law is weak in many of these enclaves and language barriers can be used strategically to feign ignorance and create a seperate system where “we” run our own affairs and business.  This can lead from the mild stuff like unlicensed practictioners offering cut rate legal, real estate, immigration and other services to more dangerous stuff like racketeering, etc.  Sometimes what seems okay and justified within the bubble of an encalve culture is not okay (bootleg DVDs and designer clothing, stolen bicycles sold openly at a flea market, etc.)

    So the issues here aren’t just about vice laws (though SJ lately has been showing its small town roots a lot in this area with knee jerk nimby reactions to everything from pot clubs to liquor stores.)  Its also about finding away to encourage the positive aspects of ethnic enclaves and diversity while drawing the line against the negatives.  Do unlicensed attorneys or immigration specialists and all the rest preying on there own community for profit harm the rest of us?  Do adult women selling the allure of sex for tips harm us?  Is this exploitation?  Or is it just an unlicensed racket and the went about it the wrong way without involving the mainstream establishment who want their cut?

    For all the enlightened liberals running things in California, seems like knee jerk morality issue responses are still the norm and NIMBYism trumps all other impulses (capitalism, pluralism, etc.)

    BTW – smoking in a coffee shop or bar?  There’s got to be a better solution than community wide bans and child proofing our entire world.  Some people like to smoke and its got to be okay in some social settings, so couldn’t ordinances and laws be written to allow for a better accomodation of competing interests?  I don’t smoke, but I’m okay in some situations with it and as long as its not done in schools and hospitals, big deal.

  12. Simple:  deport the whores.

    Simple:  yank the business licenses for these whore houses.

    Simple:  prosecute and imprison the men and women who own these places.

    Simple:  yank the licenses from the so-called massage parlors, many of which are also whore houses.

    Question:  Why are they still in business.  Are the police and other so-called city leaders protecting them for pay?