Starbucks closes cafes, limits orders to delivery and drive-thru

Coffee chain says cafes open for carryout experienced high traffic; 'The magnitude of managing through this situation is the single biggest challenge many of us have faced,' executive says


Nancy Luna, Nation's Restaurant News

Mar 21, 2020


Citing the escalating coronavirus crisis and overwhelming carryout traffic, Starbucks said late Friday that it will only accept drive-thru and delivery orders at company-operated stores in the U.S. and Canada for at least two weeks.


The Seattle-based chain switched to a to-go model on Sunday, but continued to accept orders placed at the register.


But, in an open letter to employees, Rossann Williams, executive vice president and president of U.S. company-operated operations, said cafes have been "experiencing high traffic, and we need to do more to prevent the spread of this virus."


"This is a crisis that is moving quickly, and we need to stay ahead of it and do our part, recognizing this is often confusing, frustrating and dynamic. Today, we are making the decision to close access to our cafés altogether," she said.


The chain said some cafes situated near hospitals and healthcare centers will remain open as it is "especially important to serve thousands of frontline responders and health care workers," Williams said.


Williams said Starbucks will pay U.S. partners for the next 30 days even if they choose to stay home. The company has also expanded its catastrophe pay for employees.


“The magnitude of managing through this situation is the single biggest challenge many of us have faced in our lifetime, and I am continually moved by your compassion for each other, our customers and our communities during this exceptionally difficult time," she said. "With daily news from friends and family members getting laid off and businesses closing, we need one another more than ever. We need to be a different kind of company...