‘Skimpy’ uniforms row leads to Meter Maid fall out
BUSINESS partners behind the Gold Coast's short-lived Meter Maid bar are in a bitter falling out over plans to reopen as a late-night spot.
John Sankey, who spent a year setting up the central Surfers Paradise venture with Meter Maids brand owner Roberta Aitchison, wants nothing more to do with her future vision.
Mr Sankey said he was not happy with skimpy staff uniforms from the get-go anyway and had envisaged it as a more family-friendly, gimmicky cross between Hooters and Hard Rock Cafe.
It closed four weeks ago a month after opening, with ex-fast food partner King of Wings posting to Facebook about "bar licence issues".
Ms Aitchison clarified yesterday it initially opened with a cafe-bar licence which meant they had to stop serving drinks an hour after food service ended. That typically meant a 10.30pm close with King of the Wings often shutting the kitchen at 9.30pm.
Ms Aitchison said she and business partner Greg Kafritsas hoped to relaunch later in the year with a new "nightclub" licence allowing bar trade without food until 1am.
"It needs to be relaunched with the right licence," she said yesterday. "We don't want to be a nightclub. We just need a later licence so we are able to make money later on in the evening."
Mr Sankey said he remained a shareholder but would have nothing further to do with it operationally.
"The uniforms was a point of contention. There was quite a lot of feedback from people saying they felt uncomfortable with children and families.
"So were a couple of the girls on staff - they felt uncomfortable serving families and children with basically their bikinis up their arse.
"When it came to the uniforms in there it was very borderline I felt," he said.
"And there is no way I want to compete with businesses of that late-night nature and that is where it is shifting now. I have no interest in that," Mr Sankey said.
"There is no room for it in Surfers, all those bases are covered. I also believe it'll kill the Meter Maids brand - that's my opinion.
"I think it is going to give people more ammunition to criticise them and have an argument as to whether the Meter Maids would be valid anymore," Mr Sankey said.
"But it is Roberta's brand and I have to respect that."
Asked if she felt operating later as more of a bar would ruin the reputation of the Meter Maids, Ms Aitchison - who worked as one before trademarking it - said: "I don't think I've lived down posing for Penthouse in 1990 so reputation isn't something I'm worried about losing."
Ms Aitchison had no problem with staff outfits and was optimistic about reopening.
Mr Sankey had "walked away" and she had no interest in him staying as a shareholder, she said.
"I'm not sure how that's going to pan out but it wouldn't be favourable to me," she said.
Ms Aitchison said lawyers told her a "nightclub" licence could take months to get.
WHO IS JOHN SANKEY?
HIGHLY-REGARDED, globetrotting heavy metal drummer from Queensland. Spent two decades touring the world and playing for some of the biggest bands in genre before taking time out on the Gold Coast. Met Meter Maids brand owner Roberta Aitchison through mutual friends and worked on setting up the first Meter Maids bar in Surfers Paradise for a year. Still a shareholder but no longer wants anything to do with it operationally.
WHO IS ROBERTA AITCHISON?
EX Meter Maid who strutted around Surfers Paradise feeding parking meters to save visitors from fines. Later trademarked the brand and continues to operate the service today, more than 50 years after it started. Expanded into merchandise sales of calendars, key rings and beer stubby holders. Not known for taking a backward step when under pressure from officialdom about the role of Meter Maids in the city nowadays. Infamously posed for Penthouse in 1990 and was the cover girl in a golden swimsuit. Threatened Commonwealth Games bosses with a lawsuit if they infringed her trademark in the opening ceremony.