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Starbucks: Anyone is welcome in our ‘third place’ cafes

Just days before Starbucks is set to close all stores to give staff racial-bias training, the coffee giant announced that everyone is welcome in its units, regardless of whether they make a purchase.

The move expands upon the announcement made by the chain earlier this month that no purchase will be required for those wishing to use Starbucks’ bathrooms. “We want our stores to be the third place, a warm and welcoming environment where customers can gather and connect,” Starbucks said in its most recent statement. “Any customer is welcome to use Starbucks spaces, including our restrooms, cafes and patios, regardless of whether they make a purchase.”

With the new policy, the chain set forth some rules around customer behavior: Everyone inside Starbucks must be considerate of others, act responsibly, communicate with respect and use the space as intended, the company said.

Employees who notice someone violating these guidelines are to follow the chain’s “Addressing Disruptive Behaviors” procedure. Employees are to call 911 if someone in the store “presents an immediate danger or threat to partner or customer safety,” the chain said.

In April, Starbucks found itself in the center of a public-relations nightmare when two African-American men were arrested at a Philadelphia store after an employee accused them of trespassing. The arrest, captured on video that went viral, spurred nationwide conversation, protests and boycott threats.

In the wake of the arrests, the chain committed to closing its more than 8,000 U.S. units on the afternoon of May 29 for racial-bias education for all employees.

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