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Some columns stick with you. After 20 or so years I’m still reminded, without a blush, of the unforgettable (I call it that) piece I wrote about a topless doughnut shop in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Uh-h-h-h. I still envision those young women flippity-flopping around the big shop that was packed with mostly male customers. I suggested that my wife stay in the car while I went inside to do the column. “Not on your life,” Helen protested and went along for a hilariously fun hour.

The topless doughnut shop soiree came back to me again recently while on the way to the airport at Punta Gorda to return home. I told our driver about the old topless doughnut place, and she said, "I hear there’s a coffee shop like that in Port Charlotte where the servers dress only in negligees."

Being a good reporter, it was my duty to check out such sinful service.

In the middle of a large Port Charlotte mall parking lot was a perky little casbah called Cabaristas Coffee, an island in the middle of traffic and parking, a white pocket-size building trimmed in red. It was drive-up only, no inside service.

I ordered a mocha double cappuccino and got an eyeful. The server was   dressed in what looked to be a minimal leopard thong and a sort-of leopard bra. Mostly, it was a skin show with coffee. She was friendly, had a tattoo on her right forearm, and repeatedly said that the servers wear only negligees. “The briefer, the better,” she giggled. Tsk, tsk.

In sultry Florida, where it is always warm, minimal clothing is expected for certain types of work. This place has been running four years, without any complaints. Our server said, smiling, “This is a fun place to work and the tips are good.”

Customers are mostly men, but some women are regulars. None of the guys are allowed to get smart.

There was a lineup of two cars behind us and one of them was honking. We had to get going. so there was not time for more questions. After all these years, though, it’s fun to be a reporter.

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Bar phone rates

In a Venice bar, a big sign offers these “Hiding from wife bar phone rates”

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$1 for “Nope, not here.”

$2 for “Just missed him”

$3 for “Just had one drink and left.”

$4 for “Hasn’t been in all day.”

$5 for “Never heard of him”

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