The Starbucks Public Bathroom Controversy Is Still Going On

If you ever wind up in New York City, you'll have no problem finding food vendors, high-end stores, and hotels. You will, however, have a difficult time locating a place to use the restroom without making a purchase. "Try to find city-built public toilets in New York City, they're virtually non-existent," American Restroom Association president Steve Soifer said to The Guardian. He noted, "The only places you can go are public libraries or museums. They have to keep the bathrooms open for the public. Everything else is hit-or-miss." This problem is definitely not exclusive to the city; according to QS Supplies, the states in America with the least amount of public restrooms are Mississippi and Louisiana, which both have only one restroom per 100,000 people.

In 2018, Starbucks stepped up to combat the problem after two Black men were arrested for sitting in one of its stores without making a purchase (per The Guardian). The new rule stated that anybody could enjoy its dining room and restrooms regarding of spending unless they're engaging in illegal activity or being otherwise disruptive. Earlier this year, though, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz seemed to begin changing his mind.

CEO Howard Schultz deems open restrooms unsafe

During a June 2022 conference, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz revealed that the future of public restrooms in its stores is uncertain (via The New York Times). "We serve 100 million people at Starbucks, and there is an issue of just safety in our stores in terms of people coming in and [using] our stores as a public bathroom," he said, adding, "I don't think we can keep our bathrooms open." A Starbucks representative clarified to The Guardian that no changes have been made as of now, but according to the American Restroom Association, the number of Starbucks stores with open restrooms has been decreasing.

To celebrate World Toilet Day on November 19, members of the association began urging Schultz to keep the restrooms open under the "let the people go!" campaign. President of the ARA, Steve Soifer claimed that "everyone [he talks] to has a public toilet horror story." For now, the future of the Starbucks open restroom policy is unknown, but we're sure we'll be hearing about it sooner or later.