In an effort to stem the outcry over the arrest of two black men at one of its stores, Starbucks will close 8,000 U.S. stores Tuesday afternoon for anti-bias training for its employees.
On April 12, two black men went to a Philadelphia store and did not buy anything; instead, they told the store manager they were waiting for a friend to join them. They were asked to leave and an employee called police, which led to their arrest, prompting protests and accusations of racism.
A video of the incident that was posted on social media became a major embarrassment for the coffee chain.
Soon after, Starbucks announced a policy change, welcoming anyone to sit in its cafes or use its restrooms, even if they don't buy anything.
Previously, it was left to individual store managers to decide whether people could access Starbucks premises without making a purchase.
"We are committed to creating a culture of warmth and belonging where everyone is welcome,'' Starbucks said in a statement.
The company has asked employees to follow established procedure when dealing with "disruptive behaviors," and are still asked to call 911 in case of "immediate threat or danger" to customers or employees.
The men who were arrested in April, settled with Starbucks earlier this month for an undisclosed sum and an offer of a free college education for each of them.
They also reached a deal with the city of Philadelphia for a symbolic $1 each and a promise from city officials to set up a $200,000 program for young entrepreneurs.