1. Business

Starbucks: You don't have to buy coffee to sit in our cafes or use our restrooms

Starbucks is now allowing people to use its restrooms and sit in its cafes and patios even if they do not buy anything. The coffee giant announced its new policy on May 19, 2018, which says that customers, including those who did not make a purchase, can come to its cafes and stay - as long as they behave properly. [Associated Press file photo]
Published May 21, 2018

Starbucks is now allowing people to use its restrooms and sit in its cafes and patios even if they do not buy anything.

The coffee giant on Saturday announced its new policy, which says that customers, including those who did not make a purchase, can come to its cafes and stay — as long as they behave properly.

The announcement comes about five weeks after a manager at a Philadelphia Starbucks called the police on two young black men who had arrived at the coffee shop early for a business meeting. One or both of the men had asked to use the bathroom but were told they couldn't use it because they had not bought anything.

Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz told Gayle King of CBS This Morning that the manager, who is no longer with the company, probably acted on her own "unconscious bias," and the incident raises questions about whether the men were racially profiled.

The two men, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, reached a settlement with Philadelphia city officials. This month, they agreed to a symbolic payment of $1 each and asked the city to fund $200,000 for a grant program for high school students aspiring to become entrepreneurs.

The incident placed Starbucks in a harsh public spotlight, resulted in days of protests and prompted rebukes from local leaders.

On May 29, the coffee giant plans to close more than 8,000 of its U.S. retail stores to train its nearly 175,000 employees on "racial-bias education."

RELATED: Starbucks faces image crisis after arrest of 2 black men

"I've spent the last few days in Philadelphia with my leadership team listening to the community, learning what we did wrong and the steps we need to take to fix it," Starbucks chief executive Kevin Johnson said in a statement. "While this is not limited to Starbucks, we're committed to being part of the solution."

Starbucks said the curriculum will focus on how employees can recognize and address their own biases to prevent future discrimination.

Previously, Starbucks lacked a clear policy and largely left it up to individual locations to decide whether people who didn't buy anything should be allowed to stay. For instance, a Starbucks spokesman had said that at the Philadelphia location, "the guidelines were that partners must ask unpaying customers to leave the store."

JOE HENDERSON: oycott Starbucks? Take a deep breath, folks

Under the new companywide policy, people who come to Starbucks locations without buying anything are considered customers and can stay. If someone becomes a safety threat, Starbucks employees should call 911. Depending on the circumstances, a disruptive customer can also be banned from Starbucks stores.

"We are committed to creating a culture of warmth and belonging where everyone is welcome. . . . We want our stores to be the third place, a warm and welcoming environment where customers can gather and connect," the company said in a statement, referring Starbucks' claim to fame as a "third place between work and home" where people can spend their time.


  1. Lilly Beth Rodriguez, left, Laura Robertson and Linda Lamont work on a Habitat for Humanity house in north Pasco. [Times (2013)]
    The increase is expected to happen in the first half of next year. CEO hopes other nonprofits follow suit.
  2. The number of single-family homes sold in the Tampa Bay area during August rose 2.8 percent when compared with the same month last year, according to a monthly report from Florida Realtors. (Times file photo)
    The midpoint price in the bay area rose to $250,000, which is still lower than the state and national median prices.
  3. The Aldi store located on 1551 34th St N, St. Petersburg, Florida in 2018, features its updated layout. JONES, OCTAVIO   |  Tampa Bay Times
    The store will re-open after renovations on Thursday, Sept. 26
  4. Jessica LaBouve, a penetration tester for cybersecurity company A-LIGN, poses for a portrait in the A-LIGN office on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019 in Tampa. Companies hire A-LIGN to figure out where their digital security weak spots are, and LaBouve is one of the "benevolent hackers" that finds them. ALLIE GOULDING  |  Times
    Jessica LaBouve of A-LIGN works with companies to make their applications and platforms more secure.
  5. Stephen A. Schwarzman, CEO of the Blackstone Group, speaks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, earlier this year. MARKUS SCHREIBER  |  AP
    The billionaire also talks trade with China in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times.
  6. The economies of Canada and Florida go together like, well, palm fronds and maple leaves, as seen outside the Sweetwater RV Resort in Zephyrhills. (Times file photo) KATE CALDWELL  |  Tampa Bay Times
    To qualify under the proposed Canadian Snowbirds Act, visitors would have to be older than 50 and would have to own or rent a home here.
  7. Tampa investor and owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning Jeff Vinik, right, speaks about his investments in the video game industry at the eSports Summit Wednesday in Tampa as Matt Samost, Vice President of New Ventures for Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment looks on. LUIS SANTANA   |   TIMES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    A summit at USF brought together major players and explored the possibility of an esports arena.
  8. Neeld-Gordon Garden Center, open at this location since 1925, is closing on Sept. 28. MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times
    The development of Pinellas County and the arrival of the big box stores helped hasten the store’s demise.
  9. 7-Eleven Inc. is opening its first location in a Brandon mall. Pictured is a location in Port Richey in 2018. | [Times (2018) TYLISA JOHNSON | TIMES  |  TyLisa Johnson | Times
    It is the first of eight mall locations opening this year.
  10. Tampa has a pilot program underway to test scooters. Clearwater could soon have one of its own. But if it's limited to downtown, who will use it? CHRIS URSO  |   Times
    The city’s plan is coming into focus, but there will be limitations.