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Angelenos React to Starbucks’ New Bathroom Policy

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Some customers have mixed feelings about the new all-are-welcome policy

Two women looking at a Starbucks Reserve menu in Los Angeles. Starbucks has plans to open several hundred Starbucks Reserve stores in the world.
Michael Gordon /
Mona Holmes is a reporter for Eater Los Angeles and a regular contributor to KCRW radio. She has covered restaurants, dining, and food culture since 2016. In 2022, the James Beard Foundation nominated her for a Jonathan Gold Local Voice Award.

Starbucks issued new guidelines Saturday to emphasize that all are welcome, with or without a purchase. Chairman Howard Schultz announced the approach five weeks after two African-American men were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks, which resulted in a swift backlash. With the new policy implemented, CBS-LA gathered the local response to see how customers feel about it.

Some maintain a positive response to the policy, which allows anyone, customer or not, to use the bathrooms. “I’ve definitely done it. So I don’t see a problem with it,” said Nicole McDonald. “I think it should have always been that way, especially because of the way racism is, you know,” says Desiree Mollere.

Others see the policy change as a problem. “If you go into a business and you just sit there and you don’t buy anything you are taking up space at the table,” says Melrose Larry Green. Squatting is another concern. “You could end up having a squatters problem where you just have people coming and staying,” says Joe Selva. “I mean if they are going to do that they need to limit how long people can stay in there.”

Schultz clearly had some concerns about the new policy. “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, because we don’t want anyone at Starbucks to feel as if we are not giving access to use the bathroom,” says Schultz.

Still reeling from damage control, Starbucks will conduct a highly-publicized company wide racial bias training on May 29. And while Starbucks brought on these current guidelines to address racial profiling, it seems that some customers aren’t necessarily pleased with the changes.