Starbucks After Arrests: Restroom Use Relaxed, Drug Ban Affirmed

(Bloomberg) -- Starbucks Corp. is revamping its customer policies following the arrests of two black men at a Philadelphia cafe last month.

Anyone can now sit in a Starbucks store or patio or use the bathroom without buying anything, the company said in a statement on its website. Yet, certain behaviors such as smoking, drinking alcohol and sleeping aren’t allowed. If there’s an immediate threat of danger, such as the use of illegal drugs or physical assault, staff should call 911, the company said in an employee guide.

“We are committed to creating a culture of warmth and belonging where everyone is welcome,” Seattle-based Starbucks said.

On May 29, Starbucks is closing its 8,000 company-operated U.S. locations for racial-bias training after public outcry over the Philadelphia incident. In April, a Starbucks manager summoned the police after the two men waited without ordering. Chief Executive Officer Kevin Johnson apologized for the arrests and called them a “reprehensible outcome.”

While anyone can now hang out at Starbucks without paying for a latte or scone, the coffee chain is asking customers to still use the spaces as intended, communicate respectfully, act responsibly and be considerate of others. The chain said disruptive behavior includes unreasonable noise, improper use of restrooms and panhandling.

The policy statement comes less than two weeks after Chairman Howard Schultz said that Starbucks bathrooms would be open to people, whether or not they place an order.

“We don’t want to become a public bathroom, but we’re going to make the right decision 100 percent of the time and give people the key,” Schultz said May 10 at the Atlantic Council in Washington.

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