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Starbucks: Our bathrooms are open to all

The coffee chain has changed its policy to make restroom keys available to everyone, regardless of whether a purchase was made, following much-publicized arrests in one of its stores.

Starbucks has changed its policy and will now allow anyone to use a store bathroom, regardless of whether they’ve made a purchase.

The move, announced this week in a speech by Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz before the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C., comes after the much-publicized arrests of two African-American men accused of trespassing at a Philadelphia unit of the chain.

“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,” Schultz said, “because we don’t want anyone at Starbucks to feel as if we are not giving access to you to the bathroom because you are less-than.”

A Starbucks spokeswoman told Restaurant Business that the new policy is under 90-day review, but that employees should “ensure all customers coming in feel welcome.”

“If someone needs to use the restroom, please let them,” employees have been told. “But if the safety of that customer, other customers or partners is in jeopardy, use your 911 quick-reference guide for guidance on any action to be taken.”

Previously, the company had an informal policy that only customers could use store restrooms, but final decisions were left to managers, Schultz said.

Shortly after video of the Philadelphia arrests went viral, sparking protests, Starbucks announced it would close all U.S. units on the afternoon of May 29 for racial-bias training.

“I think it’s fair to say that most people have some level of unconscious bias based on our own life experience,” Schultz said. “So there’s going to be a lot of education about how we all grew up, how we see the world and how we can be better.”

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