KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Starbucks location on Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza has shut its doors.
The business posted a letter that it’s permanently closed as of 3:30 p.m. Monday. The letter did not provide a reason for closing. Read the full letter below.
FOX4 reached out to Starbucks for more information. A company spokesperson issued the following statement:
“We regularly open and close stores as a standard part of our business operations. We apply the same focus on safety at unionized and non-union stores and are closing non-union stores where we are similarly challenged in providing a safe environment for our customer and partner experience.”
FOX4 also reached out to the Plaza, and a spokesperson had no comment on Starbucks’ safety concerns at this time.
Many frequent Starbucks customers were upset to learn the Plaza location closed.
“I thought it was kind of strange,” said Cameron Washington, a Starbucks regular. “I normally do it online on the way to work, and it seemed like there was kind of a glitch in the system. I ordered, paid, and then when I pulled up, there was a gentleman outside saying it’s been permanently closed.”
A Starbucks employee who was working Monday when the store closed said the only explanation from management was that the store was closing for “safety and security” reasons.
Both customers and workers have reported hearing and seeing gunshots fired outside the Starbucks last week.
A Starbucks worker said employees told managers they didn’t feel safe.
“Workers feel unsafe all across America,” said Josh Crowell, a worker at the store. “Kansas City has a gun violence problem. And that’s part of what we’re saying here. Closing the store doesn’t make us safer because they’re going to ship us to 41st and Main, less than a mile up the road. That’s not going to be safer for us. Yeah, workers feel unsafe, but shutting down the store is not a solution to that safety concern.”
Kansas City police said officers heard gunshots near 47th and Wyandotte streets at 7 p.m. Aug. 14. Witnesses told police at least two individuals were shooting at each other and then left. Police said the shooting caused damage to one business nearby.
Starbucks shut down 16 cafes nationwide last month over similar safety concerns. According to the Wall Street Journal, the concerns ranged from drug use to disruptions in cafes.
The Plaza location also was one of the first stores in the Kansas City area to announce plans to unionize, but the vote was a tie, which counts as a loss. It’s part of a nationwide movement of Starbucks employees organizing to be part of unions. Baristas have asked for better pay, benefits and treatment.
“I definitely believe that part of this is a union busting situation,” Crowell said. “I think Starbucks was tired of dealing with us, having a tight election and decided to just shut us down so that way they don’t have to worry about it moving forward.”
According to records from the National Labor Relations Board, over 300 U.S. Starbucks have petitioned to hold union elections since late last year. More than 220 of those stores have voted to unionize.
Workers at Starbucks locations in Independence, Overland Park, and at 41st and Main streets recently voted to have unions represent them.
The full letter posted outside the Plaza Starbucks reads:
Dear Starbucks Customers,
On August 22nd at 3:30 p.m., your Starbucks Country Club Plaza location at 302 Nichols Rd. will be permanently closing. We would like to thank you for being part of our store community; you are the heart of who we are at Starbucks. It has been a great pleasure to connect with you every day. We are very thankful to have played a role in your daily routine and that you have shared these moments of your life with us.
We hope that you will continue to visit us and allow us to serve you at one of our neighboring stores:
- 41st & Main — 4101 Main St.
- West 39th Street — 1701 W. 39th St.
- 63rd and Brookside — 6304 Brookside Blvd.
To find your new favorite store, connect with your baristas to learn where they’ll be working after the closure of this store. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Eric Schmidt or Trena Cruz.
District manager, Trena Cruz — firstname.lastname@example.org
Store manager, Eric Schmidt — US1848034@starbucks.com