PORTLAND, Ore. — More than a dozen Starbucks stores nationwide, including two in Portland, are closing their doors due safety concerns, the coffee giant said.
The stores that are closing are at Northeast Halsey Street and 102nd Avenue in the Gateway area and Southwest 4th Avenue and Morrison Street in downtown.
It's sad news for Toni Russell, who frequents the Gateway location.
"I met my bestest, dearest friend Jim here 10 years ago and he's the bestest guy ever," Russell said. "It just breaks my heart."
Sandi Shell is a regular at the location on Southwest 4th and Morrison.
"It's a bummer," Shell said. "It's where I go all the time, where my whole office, my goes."
A Starbucks spokesperson told KGW a total of 16 stores are closing in Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C.
Company leaders report personal safety concerns, racism, lack of access to health care, a growing mental health crisis and rising drug use as reasons for the closures.
"I honestly think it's pretty safe," Shell said of the downtown location that's closing.
While Shell has not had any problems, Russell has seen firsthand the challenges at the Gateway store.
"I've been in there when people have been crazy as all get-out, and they [employees] try to get them out of there and they go in the bathrooms and they're in there for a half hour or more," Shell said, adding that she believes those people are likely doing drugs.
Russell is hoping the employees at her favorite Starbucks can find work at other stores. The company pledges to make that happen, with stores slated to close by the end of July.
"I mean it's really sad this is going on," Russell said.
Some of the stores that will be closing have recently unionized or were in talks to do so. That includes one of the two Portland stores, according to Northwest Labor Press reporter Colin Staub.
National Labor Relations Board records indicate that workers at the Morrison location filed for a union election at the end of May, with ballots scheduled to be mailed out on Friday and counted Aug. 5.
A Starbucks spokesperson told KGW that union status played no role in deciding what stores to close and what stores to keep open.