When espresso was introduced in Santiago there was an extraordinary evolution. It was served in coffee bars – small, darkened clubs where coffees were the cocktails. And to add fun there were the scantily clad waitresses. The story goes that the first espresso bars were a very high margin business, so competition for customers ensued. Initially girls in short skirts would serve the coffee. Then the short skirts became bikinis. Eventually one entrepreneur who called himself the Red Baron decided to make his coffee bars even more enticing. Whenever he felt like it, he would announce a fun minute. We leave it to your imagination what happened during the fun minute! This became very popular and he won lots of customers.
Evidently when Starbucks turned up, the female customers deserted the coffee bars, so the coffee bars started offering treats such as chocholates to the females. Starbucks has turned out to be very popular. We had to wait 20 minutes in one to be served. We’re told that a Starbucks coffee cup is quite a status symbol.
The coffee bars still exist. They are in use downtown, in the commercial center, during business hours only, and are “regulated”. It’s funny to think about going to one of these coffee bars for your coffee break from work! But that’s what happens.