On Saturday, Starbucks Corp. announced a revision to its policy that would allow all guests, including those who don’t make a purchase, to use its cafes.
The policy comes nearly a month after an incident in one of the company’s Philadelphia stores, where two black men were arrested after asking to use the restroom — without having purchased anything — and then allegedly refused to leave after being asked to do so.
Signs had been posted at the Philadelphia store informing the public that the bathrooms and cafe were for paying customers only and that the guidelines for such incidents required employees to ask nonpaying guests to leave.
The Wall Street Journal reported that both managers and baristas at many of the company’s stores have remained puzzled on how to treat non-paying guests that linger around.
The incident in Philadelphia, one unnamed company executive suggested, has changed all of that.
The global brand stated that it had different guidelines for any number of its 28,000 locations and that the new policy will be applicable to its U.S.-operated sites — totaling over 8,000.
The company also stated in a letter to its many employees that “any person who enters our spaces, including patios, cafes and restrooms, regardless of whether they make a purchase, is considered a customer.”
However, under the new policy, employees will also have a right to handle “disruptive” guests to a certain degree and should follow company procedures on how to do so, although the chain declined to state what exactly those procedures were.
Starbucks also followed up with guidelines for guests, stating that every customer should use the spaces “as intended” and be considerate of other guests.
On May 29, the worldwide brand intends to close its cafes throughout the U.S. for a duration of the afternoon in order to provide employees with what they deemed as “anti-bias education.”
Earlier this month, Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz told attendees at a Washington, D.C. think tank that, as much as they don’t want their cafes’ restrooms to be used as a “public” facility, there is a certain amount of corporate responsibility they must adhere to.
“We don’t want to become a public bathroom,” Schultz said. “But we’re going to make the right decision 100 percent of the time and give people the key.”
In the meantime, the two men that were arrested for alleged “trespassing,” Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson, have recently reached a financial settlement with Starbucks.
Though the company declined to release the settlement’s terms, they insisted that the two men were compensated for the ordeal.
Both men claimed they had been at the Starbucks and intended to meet a third person, who hadn’t yet shown up, for a business meeting.
“I want to thank Donte and Rashon for their willingness to reconcile,” said CEO Kevin Johnson in a statement. “I welcome the opportunity to begin a relationship with them to share learnings and experiences.”
“And Starbucks will continue to take actions that stem from this incident,” he added. “To repair and reaffirm our values and vision for the kind of company we want to be.”
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