Starbucks closing some restrooms?

The company is reportedly allowing only employees into the facilities at some New York cafes.

By Kim Peterson Nov 16, 2011 1:58PM
Starbucks (SBUX) loves to set up cafes in areas with heavy foot traffic. But its restrooms end up open to everyone as a result.

The company is getting a little tired of that in New York, according to news reports. So it's begun closing off some restrooms to everyone but employees.

"Starbucks cannot be the public bathroom in the city anymore," one source familiar with the company's plans told The New York Post. The location on 45th Street and Sixth Avenue was one of the first to convert its restroom to employees-only.

There were two main reasons for the change, according to the Post. The restrooms got awfully dirty and sometimes needed repairs two to three times a week, and employees had to wait in the restroom lines along with everyone else. They could probably cut in line, but that makes customers angry.

The move comes after Starbucks began covering up its electrical outlets to discourage laptop parkers.

The result is that Starbucks will not be the home away from home that some customers desire. But will it lead to a drop in business?

New York Magazine says New Yorkers who need to use the restroom instinctively look for a Starbucks, whether they plan to buy something or not. "The mere prospect of large-scale bathroom-shutterings is terrifying," Dan Amira writes.

"It's almost as if this multinational corporation only cares about money!" Gawker observes.

Tags: SBUX
Nov 17, 2011 11:34AM

Convert the restrooms to house pay toilets.  Give all paying customers a free token or a means to access the toilet for free.  Make all non-paying customers pay coin for its use.

Nov 16, 2011 3:32PM
Everybody ought to have to run a business for one day, just to see what it's like. Everybody picks on business because they want to make money.  If they didn't there wouldn't be a damn business or jobs, or anywhere to buy coffee? Wake up and smell the roses people - how do you think businesses run. Because they make money. Look at it this way - would you want people coming into your home to pee and wrecking the crap out of your house. If people weren't slobs in the first place they might not have to do this - how many public restrooms you been in where you wanted to puke because people are pigs and just because it's not there's they abuse the crap out of it
Nov 16, 2011 3:43PM
AS a retired business person, I want to say that you can not believe how thoughtless customers customers can be.  They break,steal,leave unmentionable trash, and dirt of which you don't want to clean up, and why would anyone need to use the electrical outlet?  People have no respect for anything any more.  A lot of it begins in the home, they no longer have the old fashioned standards.
Nov 16, 2011 4:06PM
Maybe they should implement the same system they use in Europe, you buy something, a code comes out on your receipt and that code opens the door to the restrooms.
Nov 16, 2011 4:06PM
I don't patronize Starbucks for the very reason that they allow people to plop themselves down and camp out in a booth or table for hours on end.  Why do people feel they have the right to do this when perhaps they only purchase one cup of coffee for a few dollars?  Why should Starbucks have to absorb the cost of toilet paper, repairs to their facilities, etc. so that benchwarmers can work in a pleasant environment?  Why should Starbucks absorb the cost of building additional employee restrooms?  Why should Starbucks or any other vendor for that matter have to go the extra mile for their customers?  Because of the entitlement behavior that has been bred into citizens born after 1975 - yes, I'm talking to you!  You want all the rights and none of the responsibilities that go along with those rights.  Self-absorbed idiots!!!!!
Nov 17, 2011 12:23PM

As a former small business owner I would like to give some insight into opening up a restroom to the public.  In a very busy area we felt that the restroom should be open to all traffic.  The result was as follows: 

Our customers had to often wait until non-customers were finished with their bathroom urgencies.  If these walk-ins left their own bathrooms in the shape that they left ours it is sure a filthy society.

My husband was tending to those restrooms a minimum of three times a day armed with a plunger, tools, and cleaning supplies.  He cleaned up more feces than people should ever see in a lifetime.

For all of you that feel that the public has a right to use restrooms that are in private businesses - ask yourself how willing you would be to clean up after disrectful people every day.

Nov 16, 2011 5:36PM

Having work in a retail setting where I was responsible for cleaning the restrooms, I can see Starbucks point of view. Now being disabled and on meds that make me go to the bathroom often I can also see the need for having restrooms available. Maybe what Starbucks and other places can do is put some kind of code on your receipt that if you can use to punch into a keypad to get into the restroom.  Make it good for one hour and after that time if your still there you'll have to buy something else.  It's just a thought.......

Nov 16, 2011 3:34PM
if you serve caffeine you need to give customers a bathroom! They should just go to the token system. Show your receipt, get a bathroom token to unlock the door.
Nov 16, 2011 3:46PM
I see nothing wrong about limiting the restroom usage to customers and staff only. It is after all a business not a public restroom. As far as computer usage, there have been many times I've walked out because there was no place to sit because all the tables were being used by people on their computers. This is not a public office where you can work as long as you like for free. Starbucks pays for internet usage and it's not you right to make the coffee shop your home for the day.
Nov 16, 2011 3:31PM
Actually, it's too bad that people who abuse this privilege have to ruin it for the rest of us. I have been in plenty of Starbucks and it's a well known fact in Seattle that Starbucks bathroom are gross. Thanks a lot those of you who don't know how to properly use a restroom!!
Nov 16, 2011 4:08PM
I don't blame starbucks people will sit their with their laptops and drink 1 cup of coffee for 8 hours. we call them free-loaders.
Nov 16, 2011 7:33PM

I think some of the people posting here are missing the point.  Starbucks does not want to close the bathrooms just because they feel like it, it's because many people are pigs and what they do in the restrooms is a disgrace. 

Starbucks does not have a restroom attendant, the employees have to clean the restrooms, if I was hired to serve coffee and then I was told I had to clean the bathroom I would have to quit. 
Cleaning pee off the floor and the toilets and the walls is bad enough, but feces smeared all over and tampons stuffed in the bowls is just repulsive.


I used to run a fast food restaurant and I can't tell you how amazed I was at what people did in the bathrooms.  If people could act like human beings this would not be an issue. 


Nov 16, 2011 3:31PM
A place I go to has a number printed on the receipt that allows you to get into the bathroom after you punch the number into the lock.  I'm assuming the number changes daily.  At another place you have to ask for the key.  Either might work in Starbucks case to limit access to customers only.
Nov 16, 2011 3:37PM
Be realistic.  Any business is in business to make money, otherwise they won't be in business long.  It is unfair to expect a business to provide restroom services to people who are not spending money, especially when it ultimately costs the business money.  It is also unfair to expect to buy a beverage and consider that "rent" for the day.  A food and beverage establishment services on turnover.  We want and deserve good service, but we also have an obligation to be good customers and citizens.  In business, as in life, you don't get something for nothing.
Nov 16, 2011 3:29PM
I can't fault them .... I used the one on 45th street several weeks ago ... long lines of people to use the restroom ... nobody bought anything ... ... most of the people on line were tourists ...
Nov 16, 2011 5:54PM
I work at a place (not food) where we share a public restroom and people are DISGUSTING.  Men and Women both get pee and **** everywhere on a regular basis.  WTF is wrong with you people that you cant get your feces into the bowl?  I don't blame Starbucks AT ALL.  It's your own fault for abusing it and being so gross.
Nov 17, 2011 6:46AM
How about using the European model-public restrooms that are clean but you have to pay before you can enter.  Does everyone feel that the world owes them something for nothing?
Nov 16, 2011 5:56PM

Again, manners have become a thing of the past.  We have become a nation of advantage takers and abusing the bathrooms at Starbucks is just a microcosm of the ills that affect our country.  Responsilbility and personal accountability are no longer the norm and have been replaced with entitlement and relativism.

Nov 16, 2011 5:47PM

It is unfortunate but some humans are absolute pigs when it comes to public restrooms.  I used to work at a place that had public restrooms & it got so bad that we hired someone to monitor the bathrooms after each person went in & if the bathroom was left dirty they were told to clean up their mess.  Once that person was hired & customers knew the bathrooms were being monitored the problem was solved because no one wanted to run the risk of being humiliated with their sloppy bodily functions in a public location.

Nov 16, 2011 6:35PM
Went to a Starbucks in Portugal last year.   They gave you a simple code for the bathroom and a code for one hour of free internet with our purchase.  Seems to solve both issues.  It was the cleanest and best Starbucks I have ever been in. 
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