Starbucks CEO to Employees: Everyone 'Considered a Customer'


Starbucks announced a revision to its corporate policy Saturday that will allow all guests, including those who don’t make a purchase, to use all facilities in its cafes.

The policy — announced in a letter to its employees — 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 even though they had not made a purchase, then refused to leave after being asked to do so.

The two men arrested, Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson, claimed they had been at the Starbucks and intended to meet a third person, who hadn’t yet shown up, for a business meeting.

Though both men eventually reached a settlement with Starbucks, the situation — which was deemed by many as being racially-fueled — has forced the company to return to its guidelines on how employees treat those who aren’t paying customers.

The global brand said it had different guidelines for any number of its 28,000 locations worldwide, but its new policy will be applicable to its U.S.-operated sites, which totals more than 8,000.

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The company also said its letter to its 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, it seems not all Starbucks-loving customers are on-board with the decision, as many expressed their frustration via Twitter.

The announcement comes a little more than a week before Starbucks intends to close its cafes throughout the U.S. for a duration of the afternoon of May 29 in order to provide employees with what it deemed as “anti-bias education.”

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Though it intends to create an “open” space for all, the Seattle-based chain also followed up with guidelines for guests, asking every customer to use the spaces “as intended” and be considerate of other guests.

Earlier this month, company chairman Howard Schultz told attendees at a Washington, D.C. think tank that, as much as Starbucks doesn’t want its cafes’ restrooms to be used as a “public” facility, there is a certain amount of corporate responsibility they must adhere to.

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“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.”

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ASU grad who loves all things reading and writing.
Becky is an ASU grad who uses her spare time to read, write and play with her dog, Tasha. Her interests include politics, religion, and all things science. Her work has been published with ASU's Normal Noise, Phoenix Sister Cities, and "Dramatica," a university-run publication in Romania.
Bachelor of Arts in English/Creative Writing
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Politics, Science/Tech, Faith, History, Gender Equality