Starbucks Is Closing 16 Stores in 4 States & DC

The company is in the process of relocating some of the stores.

For some coffee drinkers across the US, their local Starbucks is about to change.

The coffee chain is permanently closing 16 locations across four states and Washington, DC by the end of July, The Wall Street Journal reports. The decision is linked to safety issues involving the staff and baristas. Starbucks workers at the closing locations have reportedly raised concerns and reported incidents about drug use inside the cafes.

Starbucks is offering the opportunity to transfer to neighboring stores to all employees who are affected by the decision, the Associated Press reports. In an email sent to employees on July 11, Starbucks' Senior Vice Presidents of Operations Debbie Stroud and Denise Nelson addressed the reported incidents and said the company's stores are not immune to problems such as drug use and mental health issues.

"We know these challenges can, at times, play out within our stores too," they wrote. "We read every incident report you file—it's a lot."

In addition to allowing relocation, Starbucks also said that it will leave local leaders the authority to implement new or modified rules in order to make the cafes safer. Those include allowing managers to reduce seating as well as close bathrooms. The latter move, however, runs counter to 2018 changes, which have since allowed anyone to use the cafes' restrooms without making a purchase.

In the letter, Starbucks also said it is willing to modify operating hours and both remove or move the store's furniture to allow employees a better view of the cafe. The coffee chain also said it is testing alarm systems as well as sensors that detect the presence of someone in bathrooms, and it told employees that through the project Outreach Worker, they can connect to nonprofit groups that are dedicated to helping people without housing and people with mental health conditions.

Some workers, however, are worried the move may have anti-union motives. One employee told the Associated Press that they weren't consulted or given another option besides the store's closure. Two of the Seattle stores slated to close had recently voted to unionize, and one of the Portland stores had petitioned to hold a union vote. Starbucks denied these concerns, and said that the decision is not related to the stores' unionization process.

"Opening and closing stores is part of our business operations," a spokesperson for the company told the Associated Press. "This is really rooted in safe and welcoming stores."

So far, 171 Starbucks stores have successfully unionized across the US.

Here's the list of all the Starbucks stores closing by the end of July:

  • Santa Monica & Westmount, West Hollywood, California
  • Hollywood & Western, Los Angeles, California
  • 1st & Los Angeles (Doubletree), Los Angeles, California
  • Hollywood & Vine, Hollywood, California
  • Ocean Front Walk & Moss, Santa Monica, California
  • 2nd & San Pedro, Los Angeles, California
  • 10th & Chestnut, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • 4th & Morrison, Portland, Oregon
  • Gateway, Portland, Oregon
  • 23rd & Jackson, Seattle, Washington
  • Roosevelt Square, Seattle, Washington
  • E. Olive Way, Seattle, Washington
  • 505 Union Stn, Seattle, Washington
  • Westlake Center, Seattle, Washington
  • Hwy 99 & Airport Rd, Everett, Washington
  • Union Station Train Concourse, Washington, DC

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Serena Tara is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.