You might've had trouble getting your bitter-tasting coffee fix recently in the Bay Area as multiple local Starbucks locations "temporarily closed” out of blue — with many more regional stores now operating reduced hours, too.
Starbucks has had a rough past couple of years. Citing necessary changes spurred by COVID-19, the coffee mega-chain announced in late 2020 it would shutter over 600 stores across North America by 2022. However, Starbucks pledged in the fall of last year to commit to building another 500 stores across the continent — all of which will be designed to "outperform and offer better customer experience" than the ones they’re replacing. Sure, wonderful. Outstanding.
But the fact remains that working for America's largest coffee company has proven to be rife with burnout, unpaid overtime wages, and union-busting efforts made by upper management in certain locations. It's little wonder why many store employees have walked out or outright quit across the country. And it's this labor shortage — which has been exacerbated by employees taking necessary sick leave after testing positive for COVID-19 — that's the primary reason why a large number of Starbucks locations, including many in the Bay Area, have had to temporarily close or cut operating hours.
According to KRON4, a Starbucks in Walnut Creek has been closed since Monday — “Sorry for the inconvenience, our store is temporarily closed,” reads a sign outside that location's front door. Similar Starbucks closings have also been cited in at least three Oakland stores, as well.
In San Francisco alone, a visit to the Starbucks Store Finder tool will show nearly two dozen locations in the city that have either temporarily closed or have reduced their store hours to contend with labor shortages; a noticeable amount of SF's Starbucks locations are also described as now having mobile order pick-ups unavailable.
Starbucks released the following statement to the aforementioned news outlet in response to the widespread Bay Area closures:
As we have since the beginning of the pandemic, local leaders can, and do scale operations based on partner availability and local COVID-19 factors. When a store is experiencing a temporary staff shortage, we respond by reducing hours to be mindful that our partners aren’t overworked –prioritizing their health & well-being in our decision making. These decisions are made on a store-by-store and market-by-market basis, and our customers can check the Starbucks Locator on our website or app for their store’s current hours of operation.
Maybe this is just a sign from a certain higher, highly-caffeinated power to ditch the corporate coffee orders for those placed at local cafes, instead.
Photo: Getty Image/Justin Sullivan