Popular coffee chain Starbucks emailed their employees on Friday, revealing an interesting change in company policy.

From now on, anybody who enters a Starbucks cafe will be allowed to use the restrooms and seating, even if they haven’t purchased a thing. The company’s new “Third Place Policy” considers anyone on the premises to be a “customer.”

“We want our stores to be the third place, a warm and welcoming environment where customers can gather and connect,” the Third Place Policy states. “Any customer is welcome to use Starbucks spaces, including our restrooms, cafes, and patios, regardless of whether they make a purchase.”

Starbucks simply asks that customers be respectful, in return, behaving “in a manner that maintains a warm and welcoming environment.” That includes using spaces only as intended, being considerate of other people, communicating respectfully, and acting responsibly. If at any time employees believe that a customer is being disruptive, they are still authorized to proceed with the “Addressing Disruptive Behaviors” procedure at their discretion.

The change in policy comes after an incident at a Philadelphia Starbucks location last month, where a manager called police regarding two black men who were sitting in the cafe and waiting for a business associate. One had asked permission to use the restroom, but permission was denied since the men had not purchased anything. Police arrested the two men, but later released them after determining there was no wrongdoing.

What do you think of Starbucks’ new policy? The additional open restrooms will certainly be welcomed in downtown areas of big cities, where public restrooms are often few and far between. But will the added crowds and traffic in Starbucks cafes ruin the atmosphere for the customers who do buy something? Only time will tell.

To read the full company policy, click here.

We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

You’ll need to plan ahead: Starbucks will be closed next Tuesday afternoon, May 29, for their employees to go through racial bias training! 

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