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November 17, 2011


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I don't live or work in NYC so I can't comment on how the stores are run out there, but I will say that whenever I visit the city, finding a public bathroom is nearly impossible. McDonalds and Starbucks are pretty much the only choices, unless you sneak into a restaurant and pretend you're a patron.


That does bring up a good point. If you're wandering around a city (not just NYC), where exactly ARE you supposed to go for a bathroom? If I ever need to use one, I always buy something first, just so I don't feel like a jerk.

I think they should be able to say "Restrooms are for paying customers only" but as I'm sure everyone knows, if you are drinking coffee, you WILL need the bathroom for one thing or another...


Try a tavern; they always have a bathroom.Since I always buy something first, SBUX is a much better choice in the AM at least!

FormerNY Barista

I recently left Starbucks in Times Square after two years of working there. Before I left the company, that location did not have a bathroom. The location was recently remodeled to include a public restroom. I visited my former co-workers who say it has become the most disgusting place in the store—people have sex in there and homeless people use the bathroom as their personal shower. That being said, I know that location will not close their bathrooms but in preparing for Thanksgiving are considering hiring a bathroom attendant for the location. There are talks of hiring a full time attendant there.

The cost of maintenance—especially for busy Midtown stores—is something I'm sure most stores consider before closing the restrooms to the public. There is not a policy on letting the public use the restrooms. It is at the discrepancy of the store and district managers.

I do know of some stores in the Times Square area that have closed their restrooms to the public. They have complied with the 19 seats or more rule by removing some of the seats.

Starbucks has indeed become the public restroom in New York City—often the lines for the restroom are longer than the lines for coffee. In my experience, half the folks that entered the store I used to work at came in ONLY looking for a restroom and had no intention of purchasing anything. People felt entitled to the Starbucks public restroom even though they were not going to spend any money there. Upon hearing that my store didn't have a restroom, their reply often was, "What kind of Starbucks doesn't have a bathroom?, "Are you serious?" and other things of that nature. I do not think not having a restroom deters the customer experience in New York, it may be less convenient but mostly for tourists.

Anne Barnard

Thank you Former Barista -- Since you don't work there any more, would you mind being quoted by name? If so, give me an email through the link in the post. Thanks! Anne Barnard


You can't even find a dark alley to piss in New York City so might as well use Starbucks. One Starbucks in Boston has a security code that changes in order to use it. If you don't buy at least a $3 item, you can't use the bathroom.


I live in Boston and they just put a brand-new Starbucks in Harvard Square. In order to use the restrooms, you need to use an elevator that only opens to a code printed on your receipt. I have heard the baristas politely but firmly telling people they could not "just" use the restroom, and I think it's a great system and policy. Too bad the cost of implementing it will prevent that from becoming Starbucks-wide anytime soon.

"Pike is here to stay.."

This is why living in the 'burbs is SO-O-O much ..better?


First the issue with lock and key bathrooms, the key becomes unsanitary (just think about it). In NYC, regional leadership has stated that code lock bathrooms do not deter unsavory, or non-purchasing patrons as the code becomes common knowledge. Like all of our amenities, restrooms are "reserved for the uses of customers enjoying a Starbucks product. However, it becomes impossible to regulate. Most stores in the city have very small footprints, which often means the customer restroom is the only one available to partners (employees). The never-ending list of disgusting finds in these bathrooms would definitely make people think twice about using them, but it becomes the partner responsibility to clean and maintain them. By Starbucks policy, in the event of biohazardous material, partners are to notify our facilities contact to have an external company handle the clean up. However, when this is the only restroom, there is rarely the option to wait for it to be accessible. Drug paraphenelia, sexual fallout, needles, blood, scataphelia- these are daily issues that these restrooms deal with. It is most definitely a case of the few ruining it for everyone else. Over a decade ago, in a press conference about tourism, then mayor, Rudy Gulliani, said that if people are looking for a bathroom, "tell ten to go to Starbucks... There's one on almost every corner." Starbucks NYC leadership are ambivalent to the conditions that the partners navigate around, because they view the negatives as "one-off" situations." I've known partners who were pricked with needles changing garbages, I have personally cleaned up almost every humanly fluid and plenty that didn't seem human. I have personally worked 10 hour days without a toilet accessible because of the failure of leadership to address the issue. Rest assured, though, that it will not get easier or better, partners will continue to act as custodial crew to the vagrants, druggies, and people who are upset that their latte was not hot enough so they purposefully missed the toilet. At the end of the day, Starbucks is more concerned about pleasing the masses, which includes leaving the restrooms available.

Pike is here to stay

That is a lot of stores in Manhattan -- 190! Some countries (like Oz) don't have that many.

I wonder what the number of Dunkin, Wendy's or McD's is in Manhattan? Anything close to that number?


In Miami, you can't operate an establishment that serves food unless you have working bathrooms. Don't tell me Miami is that far ahead of NYC.

Coffee Soldier

I would LOVE if one of our two restrooms was partner only...I'm sure every other partner on here knows how terrible it is to really have to pee only to finally get a break in line or another partner come on to shift to rush to the bathroom to find a line of 7 mostly non customers in front of you. So annoying. Then of course, it seems like they take 5 minutes a piece completely wasting my ten minute break or half my lunch break just to use my own store's bathroom...it is my biggest pet peeve!! Maybe Starbucks can start issuing us some nice Siren embossed Depends to wear behind the bar! :)


When we have a line to the bathroom, partners cut the line. Customers don't seem to complain.

jeff tom

The one in seattle's central district (23rd/Jackson) has a cipher lock to keep homeless/ beggars out.

Seems mostly effective.


To Bill -
In California, health code states that we must have a working restroom available to employees, but we're not legally required to provide a public restroom for customer use. So the technicallities vary per state.


To Coffee Soldier-
Do what I tell my partners. Grab a roll of TP from the back, cut the line and tell the "customers" that you need to restock real quick, and in you go.


I am from NY and am currently living in Portland, OR. Everywhere you go out here has public restrooms:Department stores, grocery stores, walgreens, etc.... And I find that the majority of bathrooms are clean.
Maybe if NY had more options for customers and staff checked bathrooms hourly, it would work well for everyone.

Starbucks Customer

Starbucks should contract a cleaning company to attend to the bathrooms and common areas of its stores. The company staff is not trained and does not have the time to properly clean these areas. This solution would certainly improve customer service and employee morale.

Starbucks Gossip webmaster

>> Starbucks should contract a cleaning company to attend to the bathrooms and common areas of its stores.

I always thought that, too: Some of the baristas at the SBUX I frequent have master's degrees. I think: how humiliating that they're scrubbing toilets now.

Pike is here to stay

Webmaster, such is life in the Obama economy


Some of the baristas at the SBUX I frequent have master's degrees.

Yes, it is a real pain in the ass retraining them several times a shift.

Confused as always

So if someone has a Master's it is somehow beneath them to scrub toilets??

a) This is America. There is no class system here (Unless you are a Nancy Pelosi, a Bonnie Frank, or an occupier)

b) If they have a Master's and are in the employ of the Bux, presumably this is a temporary situation, and they WILL move on if they really do want to pursue their chosen field


@herman Yes!


Yes confused, there is no class system unless you are one of those "undesirables" you mentioned, as your attitude spells out.


It is very much a shame that someone who has spent years studying and paying out huge $ has to clean bathrooms. That is not a class system; it is simply sad.


It really tells a lot about the various store experiences with customers bathroom habits. I find that it shows both men and women can be some of the most selfish, rude and sometimes just outright lazy pieces of shit, so to speak. You will find that right behind the person that you would never think would have nasty habits, sure enough we were wrong.
In large cities I think there is nothing wrong with having locks on the door with a code, worked well in SF to me. Heck for those old enough to remember, gas stations used to have a slot for a dime on the door to the stall. Nostalgia
38 days of Xmas music and counting......


in nyc if a food establishment has 20 or more seats they have to have a bathroom, it Heath Code.

That said, most NYC Sbux don't have that many seats as space is very limited.

Darth Sidamo

Isnt it more a Bush economy when the few higher ups rake in millions and three leer jets while most areas pay slightly above minimum wage to the actual workers. A republican based economy aims at increasing the gap between haves and have nots. Ron Paul wants to eliminate minimum wage. All of the new republican candidates propose changing taxes leading to even higher tax breaks for corporations and wealthy. If that happened you, with your masters degree, would earn even less as Howard rakes in even more.


Bottom line: Clean your stores, people, and make sure your staff does the same. That way, your customers won't get sick, your store won't look disgusting, and you won't have to be afraid of receiving a perfectly justified corrective action from your DM....Waltie Waltie Waltie below 80 is not disgusting you really live in a glass house or let me guess total sales per week LOW...live in our world high volume and depending on the "good behaviors" of those who are there for a job not a career...watch where you throw stones...call me when you play with us big boys...High Volume!!!


Lock the bathroom. Have a key. Sanitize it daily. Bathrooms for purchasing customers only. End of story. Why is this a controversial issue?


No matter the volume of the store, dirty is dirty. I've worked in very high volume stores and in very slow stores, and all of them have always been just as clean as the team tries to keep it. I've worked in busy stores that were immaculate because the team was well trained and cared, and slow stores that were filthy because the partners were poor and unprofessional.

And, yes, a score below 80 is bad.

Look at it this way: Say you asked somebody to rate your personal hygiene on a scale from one to 100, and they rated you a 75. Wouldn't you be offended? Wouldn't you feel gross? Wouldn't you immediately want to go shower and change your clothes?

It doesn't matter how busy or slow your store is: Dirty is dirty. Stop making excuses for poor management and go clean something.


I was just thinking the other day how I would, as a SM, gladly pay out of pocket a cleaning crew to clean my store and let me focus on other aspects.

I wonder what it costs to have someone come in and dust/sweep/scrub my store...


Forgot2HourTimer, how do you even know if Waltie's a high or low-volume store? Watch the stones you're throwing as well, hun.

My store has made an 80 and an 85, respectively. My SM's under watch from higherups now because of our inability to do better.

Tall Skim Mocha

A very simple solution: have an electronic door lock that is opened by swiping the Starbucks Gold Card.


@Tall Skim Mocha

See link below - you don't need a "gold card" to receive "gold status" benefits. It is quite annoying how some people are simply so incredibly wrong with that. "But I need my 'gold card' to receive benefits!!!" - simply no, no you don't. >:(


If you have a high volume store then you have the labor to account for people doing the QASA tasks which are almost all quite simple and easily done while juggling customers. This isn't even a debatable issue. I don't care if you have the least or most amount of customers in the entire company, there's no excuse for having a store in such terrible or disgusting condition that it warrants a QASA score below 80. If your store is managed so incompetently then please let me know which store it is so I can avoid the risk of having nasty drinks or food.

Tall Skim Mocha


True, but my point was that as a regular SBUX customer (more than one star a day, every year), I figured this was the easiest way to tackle the issue.

Also, by the way, I might wish to use the rest room before having my coffee rather than afterwards and why should I buy the cup and take it into the little room. Eww!

Midwest barista

Customers take the cup into the restroom because they think it might get dumped in the trash. I know some of you are thinking kinky behavior...yeah well some do.Out here in the wide open midwest we dont often have the bathroom issues you find on the coast...east west doesnt matter.Plenty of bathrooms everywhere, gas stations ,hotels,...golly even McD's.Ours at the local Starbucks are clean and used on an irregular basis, so come on out to the midwest, where the restrooms are plentiful and ....youll still find the Starbucks quality products that are available everywhere.


We have had a health inspector come in JUST to use our bathroom because he knew it would be clean...and we're in a central location with a McDonald's, Subway, and numerous other restaurants around. We have problems, but pride ourselves on keeping it clean, along with the rest of our store.


I Love pissing in the sink where you wash your hands at starbucks. I frequently dump my poopie into the garbage in the ladies room as well. Love making it smell like cherries...Ummm

Anja Vital

Yes confused, there is no class system unless you are one of those "undesirables" you mentioned, as your attitude spells out.

Shifty Stuporvisor

Why should we provide a public restroom? Would you walk into a nice restaurant, bar, or even a gas station, and expect to use the TP and soap and leave behind your excrement without being a patron of that business?
That said, I am continually amazed by what people will do when given a few square feet of privacy. Why do you want to have sex in a bathroom? I think the toilet would be kind of a mood-killer. Wouldn't you rather go somewhere slightly more sanitary to inject stuff into yourself? Why are you drinking beers in there? Put it in a cup and go to the park, it's a lovely day. Don't even get me started on feces, I've got so many horror stories about poop I could clog up this entire thread (pun intended).

Starbucks Customer

Lexus dealerships contract cleaning of bathrooms and common areas with a uniformed worker constantly combing the entire interior of the building with cleaning products and supplies. One blog even posted a complete write-up about the bathrooms of a local dealership: http://www.wheresthetoilet.com/2008/02/as-bathrooms-at-lexus-dealerships-go.html.

For Starbucks, especially for stores that are concentrated in urban areas like NYC, two-person crews could spend an entire work-day rotating from store to store to ensure clean facilities and could also be on-call to attend to emergencies.

Personally, I don't really want a barista prepariong my hand-crafted beverage after cleaning a dirty bathroom!

Who thinks this idea of contracted janitorial services has merit?


@Starbucks Customer:
It totally has merit. Except Sbux doesn't want to pay for it. They freak out when you overspend on store labour by more than 3 hours a week (total average of $27) even when you operate a $30K+ a week store. I would love the look on my RD's face if I asked her for janitors.


CHARGE to use a clean attended rest room and they will make money. I would gladly pay $2.00 for a clean rest room. Time limit it.

samantha barista

I work in an SBUX shop in downtown DC. I simply put up an out-of-service sign with an apology. I haven't had to clean it in months! The tourists and other non-paying frequenters get an upset look on their faces, but they don't say anything and do their "business" elsewhere. We keep the toilet paper orders and other bathroom supply stuff coming in so that management wouldn't wonder why we've hardly used any bathroom supplies in a long time.

Mahne Yechuda

I was just at a SBUX with a locked bathroom. My 3 yo had to pee, after I had bought $30 worth of beans and a hot chocolate for her.

I ended up walking 2 blocks to Staples where they let us use the employee bathroom.

Won't go to that Sbux again, that's for sure!

These baristas, as much as I appreciate them, should be happy they have jobs. A year ago I was jobless and would have gladly taken anything offered, even it meant cleaning up bathrooms.

Ed Glorius

I have been denied use of Starbuck's bathrooms so many times I refuse to go there at all.

I'm a middle aged white guy who makes 6 figures. The idea that Starbuck's is remotely hospitable, at least here in NY and Toronto, is absurd.

Long live Barnes & Noble!


A barista should be a coffee server, not a janitor. I, for one, am completely disgusted knowing that the person who serves my coffee had his arms elbow deep in bathroom cleaning a few minutes before.

Starbucks should hire dedicatd janitors to keep the bathrooms clean, or else make the bathrooms for staff only.

I spend a lot of time in NYC and have never had a problem finding a clean bathroom to use when I'm out and about. And not at Starbucks.

Cardigan Stewz

I live in Seoul, Korea and there are public toilets throughout the city as well as restaurant toilets available for use. Why doesn't NYC have public toilets? The toilets here in Korea are generally a lot cleaner than the ones in NY. Baristas do not clean the toilets here, other workers are contracted through an agency to clean the toilets a few times a day.

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