The St. Paul Starbucks located at Snelling Avenue and Marshall Avenue shut down its drive-thru this week because employees objected to the presence of traffic police at the store.
One employee who wished to remain anonymous said the workers at the Snelling location “gave an ultimatum to our district manager and our regional vice president,” the Pioneer Press reported.
“After the murder of George Floyd, we decided we needed immediate divestment from the St. Paul Police Department,” the employee said.
Many of the Starbucks employees at this location are women of color and identify as “queer,” according to the Pioneer Press.
The workers’ concerns stem from customer interactions with six or seven police officers who work at the location to help direct traffic. The Pioneer Press’ report noted that Starbucks employees said these officers are white males and often interact with black and Somali customers who frequent the store.
Since 2018, the Starbucks at Snelling and Marshall has been required to have an off-duty police officer on site to direct cars due to traffic congestion and backups caused by the drive-thru.
All off-duty police work was reportedly paused following the death of Daunte Wright, including the post of a police officer at the Snelling Starbucks, according to the Pioneer Press report.
Starbucks employees told the St. Paul Police Department they no longer wanted a police presence at their store when off-duty work scheduling resumed, spokesperson Sgt. Natalie Davis said. She confirmed Monday that the workers rejected police in defiance of a contract with the department that should have continued through August 2021.
Starbucks at Snelling and Selby remains open, but its drive-thru does not. A young man in the parking lot can hand deliver your order if you choose not to come inside. No police officer on duty. pic.twitter.com/Pn7Zr6catR
— Frederick Melo, Reporter (@FrederickMelo) April 26, 2021
A spokesperson for Starbucks told Alpha News that local teams are working on a solution to reopen the drive-thru.
“We have temporarily closed the drive-thru and shifted these operations while local teams continue to discuss a long-term solution that meets the needs of this community,” spokesperson Jory Mendes said.
A Starbucks representative also said the company has had a “long and healthy” relationship with the St. Paul Police Department and appreciates the work they do to keep the community safe.
The store is still open for walk-ins and curbside pickup, after closing briefly over the weekend, but it is unclear how long the drive-thru will remain closed.
The Snelling and Marshall Starbucks is reportedly one of the busiest locations in Minnesota, according to Eater Twin Cities, and its drive-thru congestion has proved a hassle for drivers, bikers, and pedestrians alike.