Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz blames Dem-run cities for store closures
July 18, 2022
By Ariel Zilber, New York Post
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said Democratic mayors and city councils have “abdicated their responsibility” in fighting crime and addressing mental illness, which has forced his company to shutter stores due to fears over employee safety.
Schultz made the comments in leaked video that was posted to Twitter over the weekend by Ari Hoffman of KVI-AM talk radio based in Seattle.
Last week, Starbucks announced it was closing 16 restaurants in various cities across the country due to what the company said was employee complaints of drug use and violent crime on the premises.
Schultz said he believes the Seattle-based coffee chain will have to close “many more” locations.
“This is just the beginning,” said the interim chief executive, who came back to run the company earlier this year following the retirement of his predecessor, Kevin Johnson.
“There are gonna be many more [store closures].”
The leaked video of Schultz shows him addressing Starbucks employees. He told them that the company was “beginning to close stores that are not unprofitable.”
Schultz said he was “shocked” to hear from employees that “one of the primary concerns that our retail partners [baristas] have is their own personal safety.”
“And then we heard about the stories that go along with it about what happens in our bathrooms,” Schultz said.
In 2018, Starbucks implemented an “open bathrooms” policy after a store manager had two black men arrested for not ordering coffee while sitting down in a Philadelphia location.
Video of the arrest went viral, and Starbucks apologized following intense backlash.
Now the company is giving store managers discretion to alter the policy due to complaints that Starbucks bathrooms are a magnet for drug abusers and homeless people.
In the video leaked over the weekend, Schultz cited the “issues of mental illness, homelessness, and crime.”
“Starbucks is a window into America,” Schultz said. “We are facing things in which the stores were not built for.”
Schultz then took Democrat-run cities to task for not providing solutions.
“In my view, at the local, state, and federal level, these governments across the country and leaders — mayors, governors, and city councils — have abdicated their responsibility in fighting crime and addressing mental illness,” he said.
Schultz added: “We are going to have to refine and transform and modernize many of the things we do to meet the needs of our customers in a very changing operating environment in which customer behavior is changing.”
He said that “demand for Starbucks coffee” both domestically and internationally has “never been greater” and that the company is shifting to a strategy of drive-thru and mobile app sales, which have accounted for much of the chain’s pandemic-era sales.