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Hundreds of Starbucks in NYC are closing this afternoon

Written by
Rebecca Fontana
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Plan your caffeine fix accordingly. 

More than 8,000 company-owned Starbucks in the country are closing today for racial bias training, including more than 350 Starbucks in NYC alone. The stores will close at around 1 or 2pm (depending on the location) for training and a discussion with their collective 175,000 employees. (That does not necessarily include the 5,000-plus licensed stores, like the ones in Barnes & Nobles or department stores, that will likely remain open.) 

Last month, an incident at a Philadelphia Starbucks resulted in the arrest of two black men, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, after they waited in the store without making a purchase. Their arrest drew immediate backlash, and they have since reached a settlement with Starbucks. The two men also initiated a $200,000 fund for high schoolers from the city of Philadelphia and collaborated on today’s training program. 

Executive Chairman Howard Schultz said in an open letter emailed out to all Starbucks customers this morning, "The incident has prompted us to reflect more deeply on all forms of bias, the role of our stores in communities and our responsibility to ensure that nothing like this happens again at Starbucks. The reflection has led to a long-term commitment to reform systemwide policies, while elevating inclusion and equity in all we do." 

It continued, in bold and capitalized text, "FOR SEVERAL HOURS THIS AFTERNOON, STARBUCKS WILL CLOSE STORES AND OFFICES TO DISCUSS HOW TO MAKE STARBUCKS A PLACE WHERE ALL PEOPLE FEEL WELCOME.” 

The discussion will include stories shared by employees and advice from experts. Schultz promises that it will not be a one-off conversation and will influence Starbucks’ training programs in the future. 

In addition, Starbucks has already altered its policy regarding purchases: Now, all Starbucks sitting areas and bathrooms are accessible to everyone, whether or not a purchase is made. We would be lying if we said we’ve never snuck in to use the bathroom without paying for something, but now, public restrooms are finally a thing at Starbucks. 

Regardless, you know that Starbucks is definitely not on our list of best coffee shops in NYC, right? So consider today your excuse to try the mom-and-pop café that only has (gasp) one location in NYC or the cup of joe that comes with homemade graham crackers. The 100 million weekly customers at Starbucks nationwide can do better than one of the worst bagels in NYC and a burnt grande pike.

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