Some Starbucks customers oblivious to diversity training closure

Thousands of Starbucks cafes will reopen Wednesday morning. They were closed for most of the day as employees underwent diversity training following a controversial arrest involving two African American men last month.
A sign greeted customers Tuesday that stated the store will reopen at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday as the store team shares ideas about how to make Starbucks even more welcoming.

One by one, Starbucks customers in need of that afternoon pick me up found the doors locked. The store at the intersection of Third and Santa Clara Streets in San Jose closed at 2:15 p.m. for diversity training. Some customers walked away clearly disappointed.

“It sucks you know,” said John Tuilagi of San Jose. “I was really looking forward to my coffee, my frap.”

The store in downtown San Jose is one of 8,000 Starbucks cafes across the country that closed for racial-bias training for 175,000 employees. 

During the training, employees watched videos featuring Starbucks's CEO and hip hop artist Common talking about what bias means.

The closure comes one month after a store manager called police in Philadelphia after two black men, who didn't buy anything were denied access to the bathroom, and wouldn't leave the store.

The company called today's training a first step in educating its employees. Some customers applauded Starbucks’s efforts.

“They did something you got to look at that,” said Jamie Price of San Jose.  “In these times, there's not a whole lot being done.”

Others called it a publicity stunt.

“This one-day anti-bias training is just PR,” said Jason Miles who founded the nonprofit Center for Black Excellence. “There's nothing of significance to it.”

Many customers ended up at a nearby Peet’s. Others supported independently-owned coffee shops. 

“Why do I keep spending in places that don't honor or respect my culture and my community?” said Ross Pusey of San Jose. 

Pusey was having coffee at Crèma Coffee on the Alameda in San Jose. He was a once loyal Starbucks patron but not anymore after the Philadelphia incident. He said it will take more than one-day training for him to return.

"I don't see how this training will end discrimination,” said Pusey. “Are they going to do this training every time someone gets hired? One training doesn’t do it. It doesn’t do it. Not even a little bit.”

Many people used the day to support black-owned and operated coffee shops including Red Bay Coffee in Oakland.  The owner of Red Bay attended a roundtable in Philadelphia Tuesday called “Coffee While Black.” 

The closure reportedly cost Starbucks millions of dollars in lost sales. The company has said it would continue to invest in training its employees.