Starbucks will be closing 12 stores on the west coast, six of which are in Los Angeles, citing ‘challenging incidents’ reported by employees.
Originally reported by the Wall Street Journal, the locations were deemed “unsafe to continue to operate.”
In a letter to employees, Starbucks senior vice presidents of U.S. operations, Debbie Stroud and Denise Nelson, said they have read the concerns from its employees, and recognized the challenges within U.S. communities have “played out” in its stores.
“We read every incident report you file – it’s a lot,” the vice presidents said in a joint statement. “We want you to know that creating a safe, welcoming and kind third place is our top priority. Because simply put, we cannot serve as partners if we don’t first feel safe at work.”
Pointing to its “third place policy,” Starbucks will contemplate “modifying operations,” closing restrooms, or closing stores altogether if safety continues to be an issue.
The third place policy mentioned by the vice presidents was introduced in 2020, touting its stores as a community that encourages “respect and dignity, free of bias and discrimination.”
It adds that while in-store, guests and employees should use its spaces “as intended,” communicate respectfully, be considerate of others and act responsibly.
Violating the terms of the “third place policy” could lead to removal from the store.
Activist for the unhoused community in Los Angeles, Theo Henderson, has expressed concern over possible changes from Starbucks leading to discrimination against the homeless community.
On Wednesday, Henderson posted a photo from a Los Angeles-area Starbucks, where a sign on the door informed guests that restrooms would be closed to the public.
“Starbucks is closing in areas where the unhoused community are,” Henderson said in a tweet Wednesday. “They will prevent restroom usage. And the ability to charge devices.”
Starbucks is closing in areas where the Unhoused community are. They will prevent restroom usage. And the ability to charge devices. pic.twitter.com/hnZHyKqecC
— Wetheunhoused (@TheoHen95302259) July 13, 2022
Throughout the pandemic, Los Angeles Starbucks enforced bathroom closures, citing COVID-19 concerns in a time when dining areas were closed in the city. Since the pandemic, Henderson has accused not only businesses, but city officials who closed restrooms in public areas, of targeting homeless communities with the closures.
By the end of July, the six closing Starbucks locations will be:
- 1st St. and Los Angeles St., inside the Doubletree hotel
- 232 East 2nd Street, on the corner of East 2nd and San Pedro
- 6290 West Hollywood Blvd., on Hollywood and Vine
- 5453 Hollywood Blvd, on Hollywood and Western
- 1601 Ocean Front Walk, on the Santa Monica Pier
- 8595 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, on the corner of Santa Monica and Westmount