New Starbucks policy allows non-customers to sit in cafes

New Starbucks policy allows non-customers to sit in cafes
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Starbucks announced Saturday that it is enacting a new policy to allow people — even non-paying customers — to sit in its cafes and use its restrooms, Associated Press reports.

The change comes weeks after two black men, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks location because they hadn’t bought anything.

A viral video of Nelson and Robinson being escorted out of the Philadelphia coffee shop sparked uproar online, prompting many to call for a nationwide boycott of the coffee chain and protests outside of the location where the two men were arrested. 

Previous policies allowed store managers to use discretion when deciding whether people could sit in the store without making a purchase, executives have said. 

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Starbucks workers are now instructed to view anyone who walks into its stores as a customer, “regardless of whether they make a purchase.”

"One of the key pieces within the policy is the respectful request of customers to behave in a way that maintains a warm and welcoming environment," Starbucks said in a statement to The Hill on Sunday

However, AP reported that employees are still instructed to call the police if they view a safety threat.

The coffee shop chain changed its companywide bathroom use policy earlier this month following the incident in Philadelphia.

"We don't want to become a public bathroom," Executive chairman Howard Schultz said. "But we're going to make the right decision a hundred percent 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 you to the bathroom because you are 'less than.' We want you to be 'more than.’”

Nelson and Robinson reached a symbolic settlement with Philadelphia earlier this month, taking $1 each in exchange for local officials to set up a $200,000 young entrepreneur program.

More than 8,000 stores will close on May 29 for the company to conduct racial-bias training with its employees.

Updated: 9:24 p.m.