Starbucks Finally Realizes its “Open-Bathroom Policy” is Bad for Business

This is the Starbucks sign outside a Starbucks coffee shop in downtown Pittsburgh on Wednesday, June 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

NEW YORK (Yaakov M / VINnews) It looks like woke Starbucks is going to reverse its policy of being a free public restroom.

Last week, CEO Howard Schultz announced that the coffee chain is dealing with a “mental health” crisis. 

“The mental health crisis in this country is severe, acute, and getting worse,” he told the NY Times, adding that Starbucks is “hardening our stores” in response.

When asked what “hardening the stores” means, Schultz replied “I don’t know if we can keep our bathrooms open. There is an issue of safety in our stores in terms of people coming in who use our stores as a public bathroom, and we have to provide a safe environment for our people and our customers.”

So by “hardening”, Schultz meant that it will only allow paying customers to enter. That’s not hardening. It’s called running a business. 

But here is the strange part.

Just when Starbucks opened its doors to criminals and homeless people, the country got hit with a mental health crisis? Funny coincidence. 

But we know the truth. There is no mental health crisis. There is a socialism crisis. 

“Mental health” is a woke term for rampant homelessness, out of control crime, and leftist DA’s who allow deranged criminals to control entire urban neighborhoods.


Socialist Starbucks invited mentally ill people to use their stores as a personal bathroom, and now they are suffering the consequences. 

Let us recall how Starbucks’ “open-bathroom” policy came about. In 2018, two black men were arrested at a Philadelphia store, after the manager insisted that they make a purchase in order to use the bathroom, then called the police on them for trespassing.”

Following a backlash in which the store was accused of racism, Starbucks announced that “any person who enters our spaces, including patios, cafes and restrooms, regardless of whether they make a purchase, is considered a customer.”

“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 at the time.

(It should be noted that the store manager arguably overreacted, because the customers were  waiting for a friend to arrive. However Starbucks’ decision to open its doors to non-paying customers was an extreme and unwarranted political statement, because the company was terrified of being labeled “racist”.) 

Schultz’s official reason for reversing policy is to protect the safety of REAL customers (who actually buy things), but the real reason is, the woke “open bathrooms” policy has been a disaster for business.

According to a 2019 study, after that policy was implemented, visits to Starbucks dropped by 6.8%. The traffic decrease was 84% higher for stores near a homeless shelter. No shock there.

This formula happens all too often. A company is accused of racism. In response, it bends the rules for minorities, in the name of political correctness. Then the company suffers, because when you allow criminals and homeless people to overrun your store, it’s bad for business. Rather than blame its own radical leftist policies, the company blames a fabricated “mental health crisis.”

The only part that Schultz got right, is when he told the Times that the government needs to do something. It’s called enforcing the law.

The next time a non-paying customer enters a Starbucks to use the bathroom, and threatens paying customers with violence, maybe the store should call a social worker. 

After all, this is a mental health issue, right? 


Yaakov M is a senior columnist for VIN News and former Op-Ed columnist for Newsmax. He has hosted a conservative podcast for 15 years. He studied in Kollel for 14 years, was a Bais Medrash Rebbi for over a decade, and obtained semicha from a top Rosh Yeshiva.

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