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Starbucks has formally reached out to its staffers throughout the US, informing them that its store bathrooms and tables and chairs should be made accessible to anyone who wants to use them - no matter whether they are paying customers or not.

The letter is meant to formalize a policy where there was none before, ambiguity that helped lead to a recent incident in which two African-American men in Philadelphia had the ;police called on them when they were waiting for a friend in a Starbucks before buying anything.

The letter says that “any person who enters our spaces, including patios, cafes and restrooms, regardless of whether they make a purchase, is considered a customer.”

Fortune notes that this “raises the specter of an influx of unwanted traffic, particularly to the chain’s bathrooms, but the memo laid out a seemingly sensible answer: Starbucks already has procedures in place for how staff should deal with paying customers who become disruptive. Those policies will now be clarified and expanded to include all guests in Starbucks stores, regardless of whether they’ve bought a drink.”
KC's View:
I can appreciate what Starbucks is trying to do here, but it seems to me that it is setting itself up for problems. What happens when paying customers can’t find a seat or get into the bathroom because there are so many non-paying customers are in the place?

I worry that store managers are going to see their hands tied by a new policy that is so strict that it does not allow them to adapt to local circumstances. Racism never is appropriate - and let’s be clear, that’s exactly what is happening when someone is accused of sitting while black or driving while black or waiting while black. But there aren’t just two choices here … and that could be what Starbucks is reducing the situation to.