Workforce

Chicagoland chain Dollop Coffee Co. defends customer-only restroom policy

The local chain prompted a social media firestorm after two police officers were declined restroom access because they were not customers. It wasn't meant to be political, the CEO said, but it soon became political.
Dollop Coffee interior
Dollop Coffee in Chicago in 2016. | Photo: Shutterstock.

Two Chicago police officers walked into a coffeeshop last week and asked to use the restroom. They were informed that restrooms were for customers only.

The seemingly innocuous incident has been blown into a social media storm (perhaps in a teapot) that has been dubbed “Hurricane Restroom,” with critics threatening a boycott and wishing the coffeeshop harm. Some called it “Bud Light 2.0,” referring to the beer maker’s decision earlier this year to partner with a transgender social media influencer, which reportedly alienated a portion of its audience, also prompting calls for a boycott.

“It will be hilarious when you get robbed and no one wants to help,” wrote @arizonacardslover to Dollop Coffee in a post on X.

“We must all boycott @dollopcoffeeCo for once and for all! United we all stand a chance against the woke agenda folks! #BLM,” wrote Mauricio @ghosting199.

“Vile people. Vile company. Don’t come crying when lowlife criminals target your store and you call 911,” wrote Emmi1111* @MyfriendOliviaa.

The reaction prompted the CEO of the 14-unit coffeehouse chain to defend the policy in a post on Medium on Sunday.

Dollop CEO Dan Weiss said the staff’s recent interaction with the police officers was not political. The customers-only policy is designed to keep employees safe, he writes, because restrooms have been left a mess, with feces smeared on windows and walls and needles and other drug paraphernalia to be cleaned up—not by police officers, he makes clear, but the policy is to say “no” to non-customers because of “rushes and workloads and moments.”

For context, he adds, the barista had been asked 20 times by non-customers to use the restroom in the hour before the police officers arrived.

However, the police officers response, according to Weiss, brought politics into play and was “horrifyingly inhumane,” he wrote.

The officers returned to the coffeeshop twice with individuals they claimed were “homeless and drug addicted" and “harassed our staff members about them being allowed to use the bathroom,” wrote Weiss, though it’s not clear how workers were harassed. “These officers were offended that they were being treated like everyone else and they were bullying employees. And using unhoused and impoverished people to do so. It was disgusting.”

Weiss called Chicago’s housing, mental health, addiction, and police brutality issues “desperately critical.”

“I’m ready and willing to partner with the city as a business owner—but I won’t stand by and be quiet while people are mistreated by a few bored cops,” he wrote.

Chicago Police officials declined to comment except to say an internal investigation of the incident has been initiated.

To critics on X (formerly known as Twitter) who posted that they wished Dollop Coffee would be robbed, inspected, or broken into, and who threatened boycotts, he wrote, “Most of you don’t even live here. Most of you don’t think Black lives or trans lives matter. Most of you think Steve Bannon is hot and celebrate January 6th as a national holiday. Most of you don’t think women have the right to reproductive freedom. So how about you please fuck off.”

 

Dollop’s X feed also received many posts in support, mostly reacting to why the social media account stood up to those critics.

 

Restroom access has been a recurring issue in many cities, as restaurant operators attempt to find balance between serving customers and safety.

How police officers are treated in restaurants has also become somewhat of a hotspot.

Many restaurants offer perks to police to encourage them to visit frequently with the hope their presence will deter crime and make both guests and workers feel more safe. But the presence of police can cause some to feel unsafe.

The guns police officers carry can also be an issue. The San Francisco restaurant Reem’s California reportedly last month got into a social media feud over a policy that banned police officers carrying guns from entering.

 

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