In April, 2018, Starbucks was hit with a wave of protests over its “loitering” policy. Two young black men were denied the use of a restroom and arrested in a Philadelphia Starbucks. They were waiting for a business associate, had not purchased anything, had declined to do so when informed by the manager that the store allowed restroom use to paying customers only, and did not leave the store when asked. Protesters accused Starbucks of bias towards people “Sitting While Black.”
Starbucks’ response was to formalize a “Third Place Policy,” stating that “any person who enters our spaces, including patios, cafes and restrooms, regardless of whether they make a purchase, is considered a customer.” Separate company procedures would cover anyone acting in a disruptive or unsafe manner.