Commentary

Shaffer: Coffee with a sexy smile at Cup O Jane

'Why not stir Raleigh up a little bit?' food truck's co-owner says

jshaffer@newsobserver.comJanuary 6, 2013 

— Amy Carrieri’s black hair dangles down to her zebra-print brassiere, not quite covering the cherry blossom tattoo on her lower back.

It’s lingerie day at Cup O Jane, and Carrieri is burning customers’ eyelids with a pair of booty shorts and thigh-high fishnet stockings.

On some days, she might choose a bikini, or a pair of Daisy Dukes, or a French maid uniform. You might pull up to the window to find her in latex, navel brazenly exposed.

There’s also coffee at Cup O Jane. It’s pretty good, if you can remember that you ordered it.

“Sexiness,” purred Carrieri, 37. “Why not stir Raleigh up a little bit? Something different. They need it.”

Cup O Jane represents the newest and most racy outgrowth of the food truck movement – a coffee-slinging trailer parked on an otherwise bleak stretch of Capital Boulevard, a landscape populated by storage units and used cars.

Carrieri and her co-owner husband, Blair, a bodyguard, chose this method of delivery because it required jumping through far fewer hoops than a heated and air-conditioned building with parking and restrooms.

Scantily dressed, warmed by a space heater, Carrieri and barista Ashlee Pack deliver lattes, espresso and chai tea in bra-sized cups: A to DD. Their motto: The cup that gets you up. It’s definitely not Denny’s.

Carrieri knows the backlash will come some soon, either in conservative Christian or feminist form. But she’s been a dancer at The Men’s Club, and she’s got a wardrobe that overflows out of her closets and into her drawers. She owns 103 pairs of shoes. She’s going to celebrate the combination of skimpy clothing and curving flesh whether you like it or not.

“Society says you’re not supposed to see girls in lingerie,” says Carrieri, her smile as wide as a movie screen. “But if you live in an apartment complex, if you live at the beach, you see a bikini. So where is the line? This is how we were all brought into this world.”

Whether you shudder at the idea of nearly naked coffee servers or thank the stars they’ve finally arrived, there’s no question that Carrieri and Pack have draped a frilly panty over Raleigh’s buttoned-down collar.

“I call them spankies,” said Pack, 18, referring to the tight undergarments. “We wore them for cheerleading.”

‘It’s the smile’

There’s no mirrored window here. Cup O Jane isn’t tucked back in some industrial zone, or out by the airport. Half of downtown Raleigh passes Carrieri each morning. If she dropped a hanky out the walk-up window, it might blow onto the windshield of a passing commuter’s car. She could almost lob a coffee bean to the roof of the legislature.

Without any advertising, they’re doing all right after a few months on Capital, building a crowd of regulars.

“What they come to see, it’s not just coffee,” she said. “It’s the smile.”

“Make them feel special,” Pack agreed.

“We have a lady that comes here, and she’s one of our regulars,” Carrieri said. “Obviously, she likes us. But she will not look up. She kind of looks at the ground and hands us the money. The guys, they come and they’re jaw-dropped. I think some of them even drool.”

With a little success, Cup O Jane might expand, even deliver, maybe even deliver on bicycles. They’re betting that the city, busy cutting budgets and scanning want ads, wants to loosen its tie and smile at a pretty girl.

jshaffer@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4818

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