Starbucks to close 16 US stores over crime, rampant drug use

Starbucks is shuttering 16 store locations nationwide after store managers reported a surge in drug use among customers and outsiders as well as an increase in crime in certain areas.

Six Starbucks locations will be closed in the company’s hometown of Seattle and six more will be shuttered in the Los Angeles metro area.

Two Starbucks restaurants will cease operating in Portland, Ore., while one store will close in both Philadelphia and Washington, DC, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Store managers have complained to company executives that employees have not felt sale amid a surge of assaults, thefts, and drug use in and around each location.

The company responded by giving store managers discretion to deny free access to the store’s bathrooms, which are open to the public as per corporate policy, according to The Seattle Times.

Last month, Starbucks interim CEO Howard Schultz said the company was rethinking its “open bathroom” policy due to mounting concerns about public safety.

The company will shutter six locations in Seattle and six more in the Los Angeles metro area.
The company will shutter six locations in Seattle and six more in the Los Angeles metro area.
SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett

“There is an issue of, just, safety in our stores, in terms of people coming in who use our stores as a public bathroom,” Schultz said during a New York Times DealBook event.

“We have to provide a safe environment for our people and our customers. The mental health crisis in the country is severe, acute and getting worse.”

Managers will also have greater leeway in rearranging the seating layouts and even adjusting hours of operation in order to address employee safety concerns.

The Seattle-based coffee chain plans to reassign the employees from its shuttered locations to other restaurants.

The Post has reached out to Starbucks seeking comment.

Large cities have seen a rise in violent crime and theft over the past two years.

Seattle has seen a surge in both violent and property crime since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Los Angeles has seen more people killed by guns during the first six months of 2022 than during the same period in any of the past 15 years, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

A person walks by a permanently closed Starbucks location.
A person walks by a permanently closed Starbucks location.
Getty Images

In Washington DC, there have already been 93 homicides compared to the 82 in its first six months of 2021, or a 13% jump.

Two of the stores in Seattle that are closing have been unionized while one restaurant in Portland has petitioned to unionize, according to the Journal.

Starbucks workers at more than 130 locations nationwide have voted to unionize while scores of others are in the process of doing so. There are more than 9,000 locations across North America.

Pro-union activists have accused the company of intentionally shuttering stores as a punitive measure to retaliate against organized labor.

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