The nation’s largest coffee shop chain attracted widespread attention earlier this month when more than a dozen locations were marked for closure amid a continued spike in crime.
Most of the affected Starbucks stores are in West Coast cities with predominantly Democratic leaders, which bolstered the GOP narrative that lax law enforcement in areas such as Los Angeles and Seattle is detrimental to American society.
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz recited similar talking points during a meeting with stakeholders in which he addressed the root causes for the drastic decision to shutter as many as 16 stores across the country.
Although he did not call out the Democratic Party by name, Schultz blamed “local, state, and federal” leaders who “have abdicated their responsibility in fighting crime and addressing mental illness.”
As a result of the current situation in these progressive enclaves, he said it is crucial for the company to “refine and transform and modernize many of the things we do to meet the needs of our customers in a very changing operating environment in which customer behavior is changing.”
Starbucks Vice Presidents Debbie Stroud and Denise Nelson also weighed in on the troubling trend in a letter sent to employees earlier this week.
“We want you to know that creating a safe, welcoming, and kind third place is our top priority,” they wrote. “Because simply put, we cannot serve as partners if we don’t first feel safe at work.”
Starbucks is not the only prominent chain to determine that it is simply too dangerous to remain open in certain crime-ridden communities. Following a spate of violent robberies at 7-Eleven stores in the Los Angeles area, the company advised local convenience stores to shut down earlier this week.
Six locations were targeted by armed robbers, resulting in at least five casualties including two victims who were fatally shot.
In a statement to CNN on Tuesday, a corporate spokesperson explained: “Our hearts remain with the victims and their loved ones, and our focus continues to be on franchisee, associate, and customer safety. With that in mind, we have encouraged stores in the Los Angeles area to close again tonight.”
Last year, pharmacy chain Walgreens shuttered several San Francisco-area locations due to a dangerous uptick in crime.