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Starbucks returns to Los Angeles


This week, six Starbucks locations in Los Angeles will permanently close, due to what the company calls “a high volume of difficult incidents.” “It’s a whole every day,” said a barista. He continued, “People get violent with us. People steal stuff. It’s very aggressive. »

“They spit on us,” said another. A common concern among baristas is getting drinks thrown around.

“Better iced tea than hot tea – look on the bright side,” said Ray Indolos, who spends several days a week sitting and sketching at various Los Angeles Starbucks. “I am super disgusted. Some of my favorite Starbucks are the ones that are closing. At the location in the Little Tokyo section of downtown, Indolos sat at a table with two fountain pens, ink brushes, and a sketchbook spread out in front of him. “I do my artistic work. I feed off of the whole vibe here, the energy of the people,” he said.

He looked around the store. “My first assessment is: is this guy going to stab me? And, if not, more power for him. All it takes is a glance. He pointed to a man who was dancing alone. “God bless him no matter what he’s going through,” he said. “He doesn’t bother me.”

Indolos started hanging out at Starbucks twenty-two years ago. “I’m from Hollywood,” he said. “I hitched my horse here. Her regular order is an iced Americano with chocolate mousse. He used to work in the animation industry and now works in the office of a mental health facility. He continued, “I mean, it’s not like a mafia hotbed or anything. It’s not so much crime as inconvenience.

“Starbucks is a window to America,” Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said in remarks to staff last month. “We’re dealing with things that the stores weren’t built for.” At the Hollywood and Western branch, two monitors showed customers live video of themselves: a woman in leopard-print leggings ordering at the cash register, another woman rummaging through trash and looking for a half-baked cigarette smoke. At a Little Tokyo establishment, an employee was pricked by a used hypodermic needle while emptying the trash can.

Starbucks plans to offer de-escalation training at locations that will remain open. Indolos agrees: “You’re making coffee, and you’re face to face with someone who’s totally out of it, and you’ll have tools you can rely on,” he said. Baristas, he added, “should all have jujitsu and karate on their resumes.”

“This one isn’t that different from Hollywood and the Highlands, where people come in half-naked, screaming at the top of their lungs,” he said. “I feel cool about it.”

And now? “Guess I’ll have to drink coffee on the street.” Some people think the shutdowns are a response to baristas’ efforts to unionize. A Starbucks representative disputed this: “Look, there are a lot of other Starbucks in LA.”

Starbucks has, over the years, taken various measures to deter people from lingering, such as covering electrical outlets and encouraging use of its mobile app. Indolos doesn’t see the point of a drive-thru Starbucks. He usually spends two or three hours at the cafe. “As an artist, I observe people here. I want to know what their deal is,” he said. “Some people hold themselves in that different way – they don’t have that ‘I have to go get my kids.’ look. ”

“Gone are the days when Starbucks was open until 2 A M,” he continued. “It’s the stuff of legends. Now it’s usually 6 PM or 8 PM, For the safety. A total killjoy.

Outside Hollywood and Vine Starbucks on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, celebrity bus tour workers stood on a break. Next to Spike Jonze’s star, a homeless man sat on a blanket with a Starbucks iced tea. A barista said: “People come in here, they make a lot of noise, they bang on the walls, they yell at us. People arrive with their hands in their pants. There was a fight outside. One guy was completely covered in blood. A guy had an iPad, and he was taking a picture of the behinds of the two girls I was taking an order from. I was, like, ‘What are you doing?’ And he said, ‘Give me some water.’ I said, ‘Line up, and I’ll give you some water.’ People lock themselves in the bathroom. Once it gets dark, we lock the doors, pull the blinds, and just use the window. We had the security guards, and that didn’t really help. She continued, “People visit Hollywood and they say, ‘This is not what I expected. ” ♦