NoHo Starbucks is dealing with more than just the ever-emerging caffeine addicts who want a solution.
The Post has seen the cafe on the corner of Astor Place and Lafayette Streets regularly get into arguments with drug users, the unhinged and the homeless wanting to take a nap.
“Starbucks woke up too quickly,” said java co-regular Constantine Dobryakov. “Now some customers are afraid to go in because you have a bunch of homeless people sleeping there. They have to be ready to kick people out instead of giving everyone a free cup of coffee. You give them a finger and they go Will hold out a hand.”
Last week, The Washington Post saw homeless people dozing off, washing their hair in public sinks, and then being rushed to the hospital from a recently unionized Starbucks. The eye-opening ones are:
- A man brought his own carton of cinnamon toast chips, a carton of milk, and some of Entenmann’s mini crumb cakes, and threw face down on the table. Afterwards, he rolled some small cakes around the neighborhood, and paying customers tried their lattes and frappuccinos.
- A psychotic man in a black trench coat muttered to himself and screamed for 30 minutes into a communal mirror near the bathroom. “There’s a guy next to the bathroom that makes people very uncomfortable,” a customer told an employee behind the counter. Two police officers, one of whom was armed with a riot shield, eventually took him away unharmed.
- There was also an unpleasant smell and a buildup of rubbish – newspapers, food wrappers and empty coffee cups littering the indoor patio. “There’s nothing like the smell of BO and urine in your morning coffee,” commented one Nextdoor user in response to a photo of him dozing off in a booth surrounded by trash, handbags and luggage squatter.
- Emergency crews were called to help a man who collapsed on the steps on Friday, blocking the exit. With the help of paramedics, he regained consciousness and got into an ambulance.
Dave, a 28-year-old homeless from Boston, said that once the largest Starbucks in Manhattan — now bigger than Chelsea’s 23,000-square-foot Starbucks Reserve and Roastery — Astor Square is the place of choice for the poor .
“They have cell phone chargers and nice sofas,” he said. “No one has really wanted to touch you since those black people were arrested in a Philadelphia place a few years ago. Employees might come over and ask very quiet people who are sleeping to wake up and move on, but then those people go back to sleep. The police only show up when someone is in danger.”
Critics say it’s Starbucks’ own fault that its stores are overrun by abandoned people, drunks and drug addicts for exposing bathrooms and even putting syringe disposal boxes in some of them.
“They allow anyone to use their restrooms, which sounds like a good idea, but when you have a country that uses public spaces as homeless shelters and mental health wards, it makes sure that people are paying attention in the restrooms. Shoot heroin and move in them halfway,” said political commentator Kevin Williamson.
The Java giant suffered some major blows this summer.
Starbucks recently announced it would close 16 profitable stores, two of which are unionized, in Seattle; Los Angeles; Philadelphia; Washington, D.C. and Portland, Oregon, citing safety concerns, violent crime and rampant drug use in and out of stores.
“It struck me that one of the biggest concerns for our retail partners was their own personal safety. And then we heard stories of what happened in our bathrooms that followed,” CEO Howard Schurer Z said at an internal meeting First reported in Post Millennium July. “We’re facing things that stores weren’t built for. So we’re listening to our staff and closing stores. This is just the beginning. There’s more to come.”
A Starbucks spokesperson said locations have the right to change hours or “drive-thru only” to “do what they need to do to create a safe environment.”