Last week, the city collectively held it in—in terror—as we all confronted the prospect of Starbucks' closing their restrooms to the public. The company adamantly claimed reports of Starbucks' converting toilets to employee-only use were greatly exaggerated. Now, the NY Times reveals that the Starbucks Pee Panic of 2011 was spurred by mini-insurrections at certain Starbucks locations, and indeed not any widespread city policy shift. And it seems Starbucks acted quick to end the speculation: "Within days...higher-ups from Starbucks management visited at least two offending shops and ordered them to liberate their restrooms."
According to the initial reports, the bathrooms were being closed to the public mainly because employees were being forced to wait on lines for restrooms. As a result, the Starbucks on 45th Street and Sixth Avenue made their bathroom employees-only; two others, at Spring Street and at 67th Street and Columbus Avenue, reduced their restrooms from two to one.
Employees complained that they had been forced to become untrained janitors amongst inhumane conditions, in addition to their other responsibilities: “I have personally cleaned up almost every humanly fluid and plenty that didn’t seem human,” one employee wrote on Jim Romenesko's Starbucks Gossip blog, where the Times sought out former and current employees takes on the crisis.
But the stores which acted upon these anti-public restroom urges were acting on their own it seems—and now, because of the controversy they sparked, they've been scolded and things have been set back to the way they were. There was a bare patch on the bathroom door at the 45th Street location where the "Employees Only" sign was removed: “We had been using it as a locker room,” one employee told the Times, adding that the restroom had been closed because a small number of inconsiderate patrons had repeatedly broken the toilet.
However, this doesn't mean that stores couldn't put in bathroom monitors, a plan which had been discussed internally by at least one branch—Starbucks told us that adding employees "is up to the management of the store and their district manager. What role that additional team member would play" is an internal decision. At least we can all breathe a sigh of relief knowing the Starbucks masturbator may yet achieve his dreams.