Multinational coffeehouse chain Starbucks may once again make its restrooms private. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has stated that the company is considering removing its open bathroom policy because it may endanger employees and customers.
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz told the New York Times this week that the company’s policy of allowing non-paying customers to use its facilities could be reversed shortly.
Since May 2018, Starbucks has permitted open use of its retail restrooms. The Seattle-based firm instituted the policy in response to an incident in a Philadelphia store in which police detained two Black men after a Starbucks manager denied them access to the restroom and accused them of trespassing.
The coffee giant provided cultural sensitivity training for staff following claims of racial bias over its former policy. At the time, the firm stated that any customer, regardless of purchase, is welcome to use Starbucks venues, including their toilets, cafés, and patios.
Starbucks apologized for how it handled the situation and shuttered all of its US locations for one day to perform anti-bias training. In addition, the corporation achieved a financial settlement with the two men.
However now, according to Schultz, the coffee business may soon reverse its restroom policy in order to maintain a safe atmosphere” for customers and employees. In an interview with The New York Times’ DealBook D.C. policy conference on Thursday, Schultz hinted at the policy shift.
He said there was an issue of just safety in their shops, in terms of people coming in, using our stores as public restrooms, and they had to create a safe environment for their staff and our customers, Schultz said in an interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin of The New York Times.
Schultz brought up the subject during a talk about mental health, which he stated is one of the “most important challenges” that Starbucks is dealing with “as a company.” He said that the country’s mental health issue is significant, acute, and worsening; they are not sure if they could keep their bathrooms open.
The CEO also stated that Starbucks did not want the restrooms to become public toilets. It will train employees and “harden” its outlets. He also mentioned the possibility of providing genuine patrons with a key to the restroom.
The coffee chain also included the guideline in its “third place” policy, which intended to present its cafes as welcome public areas as long as visitors behaved lawfully and politely.