Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said Democratic mayors and city councils have “abdicated their responsibility” in fighting crime and mental illness, forcing his company to close stores over fears of employee safety.
Schultz made the comments in a leaked video posted to Twitter over the weekend by Seattle-based KVI-AM radio’s Ari Hoffman.
Last week, Starbucks announced that it would close 16 restaurants in various cities across the country due to what the company said were employee complaints about drug use and violent crime on the premises.
Schultz said he thinks the Seattle-based coffee chain will have to close “many more” locations.
“This is just the beginning,” said the interim chief executive, who returned to lead the company earlier this year following the retirement of his predecessor, Kevin Johnson.
“There will be many more [store closures].”
Leaked video of Schultz shows him addressing Starbucks employees. He told them the company was “starting to close stores that are not profitable.”
Schultz said he was “surprised” to hear from employees that “one of the top concerns of our retail partners [baristas] they have is their own personal security.”
“And then we learn the accompanying stories about what goes on in our bathrooms,” Schultz said.
In 2018, Starbucks implemented an “open restroom” policy after a store manager arrested two black men for failing to order coffee while sitting at a Philadelphia location.
Video of the arrest went viral, and Starbucks has apologized after an intense backlash.
Now the company is giving store managers the discretion to modify the policy due to complaints that Starbucks bathrooms are a magnet for drug addicts and the homeless.
In the video leaked over the weekend, Schultz cited the “problems of mental illness, homelessness, and crime.”
“Starbucks is a window into America,” Schultz said. “We’re dealing with things stores weren’t built for.”
Schultz later criticized the Democrat-run cities for failing to provide solutions.
“In my view, at the local, state, and federal levels, these governments and leaders across the country — mayors, governors, and city councils — have abdicated their responsibility to fight crime and address mental illness,” he said.
Schultz added, “We are going to have to refine, transform and modernize many of the things we do to meet the needs of our customers in a rapidly changing operating environment where 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 self-service and mobile app sales strategy, which have accounted for much of the company’s sales. chain pandemic era.
The Post has sought comment from Starbucks.