Union Station Starbucks Closing July 31
WASHINGTON — Commuters who use Union Station to travel to and from the district won’t have the Starbucks on the station’s concourse to satisfy their coffee craving much longer.
The multinational chain of coffeehouses announced Monday that it is closing a total of 16 stores around the country, in cities ranging from D.C. to Philadelphia, Portland, Los Angeles and even its hometown of Seattle.
The reason? Employee safety.
“We’re empowering local leaders, who have emphasized repeatedly that they care deeply about creating a safe and welcoming environment in the community,” a company spokesperson said in an email to The Well News.
“The company is renewing its commitment to safety, kindness, and welcoming in our stores. We are closing 16 high-incident stores across the country; we look forward to continuing to welcome customers at the many company-owned and licensed stores in those cities,” the spokesperson continued.
In a letter distributed to Starbucks employees on Monday, Debbie Stroud and Denise Nelsen, senior vice presidents of U.S. operations, did not refer to the 16 specific planned closures directly, but explained them by saying they’d seen “firsthand the challenges facing our communities — personal safety, racism, lack of access to health care, a growing mental health crisis, rising drug use, and more.
“With stores in thousands of communities across the country, we know these challenges can, at times, play out within our stores too. We read every incident report you file — it’s a lot,” they said.
“We want you to know that creating a safe, welcoming, and kind third place is our top priority. Because simply put, we cannot serve as partners if we don’t first feel safe at work. The question on our minds is: How do we continue to show up for our communities while protecting our partners?” the letter continued.
Stroud and Nelsen said going forward, they would be offering “robust safety training” to all employees, including courses in how to de-escalate situations, active shooter training, and mental health and first aid training.
All of these would be made available to employees beginning in August.
In addition, they said, they would institute new policies on how to address disruptive behaviors in their stores, when to call 911, how to engage local community resources or social services to support customers in need, protest preparedness, customer restriction procedures, and more.
A greater emphasis will be placed in designing “safe and welcoming stores,” and when needed, “adjusting store formats, furniture layouts, hours of operation, staffing, or testing store-specific solutions like restroom occupancy sensors, new alarm systems, or partnering with local outreach Workers.”
Going forward, additional changes could include, “codifying operations, closing a restroom, or even closing a store permanently, where safety … is no longer possible, always doing so with the utmost respect for our customers and the community and transferring partners to nearby stores if we close.”
“Starbucks are a window into neighborhoods across America, and feel the challenges in a unique way,” the spokesperson said in the email to The Well News, adding, “With our partners, we’ll continue to help address the challenges our communities are facing. This will be built upon the existing work – our outreach worker program, food share program, and other innovative initiatives.”