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Where to get your Starbucks fix when stores close for anti-bias training

The Starbucks on Seventh Street in Garden City

The Starbucks on Seventh Street in Garden City displays a sign that it will be closing at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Credit: Howard Schnapp

More than 100 company-operated Starbucks stores on Long Island will close early Tuesday for an afternoon of anti-bias training for workers, but all is not lost for Starbucks addicts.

The company's licensed stores will remain open. That includes more than a dozen stores inside Target locations, as well as supermarket locations and stores at some colleges and universities.

Starbucks will close more than 8,000 stores nationwide on Tuesday to conduct the anti-bias training. The company made the decision to hold the sessions after two black men in Philadelphia were arrested at one of its stores. 

The coffee chain's leaders apologized and met with the two men, but also reached out to activists and experts in bias training to put together a curriculum for its 175,000 workers.

On Long Island, most company-owned stores will close for the day between 2 and 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday and reopen Wednesday morning, according to the Starbucks website.  

Of course, Starbucks competitors, including Dunkin' Donuts, which has about 200 franchise stores on Long Island, and 7-Eleven, which has more than 100 stores here, will be open, as will local coffee shops.

Independent coffee shops may see a small uptick in traffic during the Starbucks closings, said Arsalan Pourmand, owner of Flux Coffee in Farmingdale.

But he said more Starbucks customers could end up at other chains.

“On the whole, we are very different than Starbucks,” he said. “We are much more traditional and our customer base isn’t expecting something super fast. They’re expecting a different experience and very good quality.”

He added that “it matters” to Flux customers that the company is local.

Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz said Tuesday the instruction will become part of how Starbucks trains all its workers. "We still aspire to be a place where everyone feels welcome," he said in an open letter.

According to a video previewing the session, Starbucks executives and rapper-activist Common were to deliver recorded remarks. From there, employees were to "move into a real and honest exploration of bias" where, in small groups, they can share how the issue comes up in their daily work life.

The training was developed with feedback from the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Perception Institute and other advocacy groups. Schultz said it will become part of how Starbucks trains all its workers.

The training was not mandatory, but the company expects almost all of its employees to participate. It said the workers will be paid for the full four hours.

In the Philadelphia incident, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were asked to leave after one was denied access to the bathroom. They were arrested by police minutes after they sat down to await a business meeting.

The incident was recorded by cellphone and went viral, triggering protests, boycott threats and debate over racial profiling.

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