CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago area Starbucks stores were among the more than 8,000 Starbucks locations around the country locking their doors Tuesday afternoon to train employees about racial bias.
The shutdown follows last month’s arrest of two African American men in Philadelphia. A Starbucks manager called police after the men declined to make a purchase, while waiting on a business associate.
The CEO of Starbucks responded by announcing an anti-bias training for all 175,000 employees across the country.
“We are here to make Starbucks a place where everyone feels welcome,” said Starbucks CEO and President, Kevin Johnson.
“I think it’s good they’re doing it,” said Alex Qu, a Starbucks customer. “It shows they’re trying to make a difference.”
“Not sure if I am going back to Starbucks,” said Brandon Earl, unsure if he will forgive the coffee giant.
“I would be interested to see what initiatives they continue to do post-training,” stated Earl. He says he is now a regular of Sip and Savor, an independent coffee shop in Hyde Park, just a few blocks from a Starbucks.
Trez Pugh owns Sip and Savor and took advantage of Starbucks closing by offering free coffee Tuesday morning, as well as 10% discounts to Starbucks customers this afternoon.
“My thing is give us a chance,” said Pugh. He says he is willing to give Starbucks’ CEO a chance and is supporting the training. He says he’s also doing a training session of his own.
“As soon as it happened, I grabbed my phone and said we need an emergency meeting,” Pugh said, calling an emergency meeting to discuss anti-bias measures with his employees.
Pugh delivered the same message he suspects Starbucks employees received Tuesday, saying, “Treat everybody with dignity, have empathy and compassion. If we do that, we’ll be okay.”
According to Starbucks CEO, Kevin Johnson, the anti-bias training will be mandatory for all new employees. The company recently updated their policy saying all customers are welcome to sit in the store or use the bathroom whether or not they make a purchase.