You Can Now Use Any Starbucks Bathroom, Even Without A Receipt

May 21, 2018

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It’s official: Starbucks will now make its restrooms available to, well, “any person who enters.”

Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz first made the bathroom announcement on May 10, at an event in Washington, DC. “We don’t want to become a public bathroom, but we’re going to make the right decision 100% of the time and give people the key, because we don’t want anyone at Starbucks to feel as if we are not giving you access to the bathroom.”

The policy officially went into effect on May 19, in a letter distributed to all employees. The corporate memo stated that “any person who enters our spaces, including patios, cafes and restrooms, regardless of whether they make a purchase, is considered a customer.” Employees were still asked to follow existing company procedures for dealing with potentially disruptive customers, and to call 911 if they perceive danger or any imminent threats to safety. Starbucks also “respectfully requested that customers behave in a matter that maintains a warm and welcoming environment.”

For the time being, the open bathroom policy only extends to the more than 8,000 locations within the US. According to the Wall Street Journal, Starbucks may have different policies for the 20,000 global locations outside the US. TPG has reached out to Starbucks for more information but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

The recent policy change came about after several recent viral incidences of racial complaints against Starbucks. A Philadelphia Starbucks made headlines on April 29 when a store manager called the police after two black customers, Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson, requested to use the bathroom. The men, who had been waiting for another business partner to arrive for a meeting, were ultimately arrested for occupying a table without having made a purchase.

Starbucks settled with Robinson and Nelson in early May for an undisclosed financial amount. As part of the terms of agreement, Robinson and Nelson will work with the city of Philadelphia and another nonprofit organization to develop criteria, review applications and award a $200,000 pilot curriculum for public high school students who want to become entrepreneurs. The men reached a settlement with the city of Philadelphia for a symbolic $1 apiece, according to city spokesperson Mike Dunn.

Robinson and Nelson will also work with former US Attorney General Eric Holder to advise Starbucks on its racial diversity awareness.

The corporate coffee chain has publicly announced plans to close its more than 8,000 company-owned US locations on the afternoon of May 29, in order to conduct racial-bias training for its 175,000 employees.
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