INDIANAPOLIS — Starbucks is closing its Monument Circle location in downtown Indianapolis due to safety concerns.
The coffee shop, located at 55 Monument Circle, will close for good at 1 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 28.
A Starbucks spokesperson told 13News that employees will have the opportunity to transfer to a nearby location.
"There are a number of factors we consider when closing a store, and safety is one of them," a Starbucks spokesperson told 13News. "The incidents at this store are at a level that we don't feel we can provide a warm and safe experience that people expect when they go to a Starbucks location."
Since the beginning of the year, IMPD has responded at least 10 runs to the address, but it’s not clear what the runs were for or if they involved Starbucks.
“I was shocked that it was not only happening, but it was happening so darn quickly,” said Kim Nething, the owner of Rocket Fizz, a candy and soda shop located on the circle.
Nething has owned the shop for 10 years and said she hasn’t had any major issues.
“We have outstanding safety ambassadors that come and check on us every single day. We have local police that checks on us nearly every day if not every day,” she said.
With Starbucks citing safety concerns, Nething is hoping the bold statement doesn’t affect downtown business.
“That in and of itself is more damaging to small businesses and families and people who may make that choice not to come to Indianapolis,” Nething said.
A note about the closure appeared on the coffee shop’s door on Friday and a “for lease” sign hangs outside.
Before that, IMPD said they were never told employees had safety concerns.
“It’s a shame that they didn’t. We ask that all of our businesses reach out to us when they are having problems, whether that’s a specific issue or any issue where the police can help. We are there for them,” said IMPD Sgt. Genae Cook.
Cook said IMPD prioritizes the area with extra patrol and advanced technology, including mobile cameras that can be monitored 24/7.
“Out of the entire city of Indianapolis, it only accounts for five percent of our crime. That shows you have safe our downtown area is,” Cook said.
Police also work on trespassing agreements with businesses to help control unruly customers. The agreement allows a business to file a complaint against an individual, if that individual comes back, it’s considered trespassing.
“Unfortunately, Starbucks wasn’t willing to do that,” Cook said.
Other businesses on the circle were disappointed with Starbucks’ decision.
Company-wide bathroom policy
In June 2022, Starbucks interim CEO Howard Schultz said the company may consider reversing its policy to let anyone, including non-customers, use their bathrooms.
The open bathroom policy was first implemented in May 2018 after the controversial arrest of two Black men at one of the company's Philadelphia locations. The men had been asked to leave a store after one was denied access to the bathroom. They were arrested by police after sitting down to wait for a business meeting. Witnesses captured the incident on video and it went viral.
At the time the policy was announced, Schultz said he didn't want the company to "become a public bathroom" but they didn't want people to feel "less than" if they were refused access.
During an appearance at The New York Times DealBook D.C. policy forum, Schultz said a growing mental health crisis was making it hard for employees to manage stores.
Stores closing due to safety concerns
In July 2022, Starbucks announced it was closing 16 stores around the country because of repeated safety issues, including drug use and other disruptive behaviors that threaten staff. The closed locations were in Seattle (six), Los Angeles (six), Portland, Oregon (two), Philadelphia (one) and Washington (one).
Here is the full statement a Starbucks spokesperson shared when asked about the Monument Circle location's closing:
"We routinely review the partner and customer experience in our stores, to see if the store is thriving, partners (employees) are feeling supported, and that we are meeting customer needs. Our local leaders are, and have always been, empowered to use the many resources at their disposal to modify store operations and create the best experience for our communities. But when necessary, we will make the decision to close a store.
Our first priority is to make sure our partners are safe at work. We will continue to work to make sure that partners can focus on crafting exquisite beverages and creating connections in a safe, warm, and welcoming environment."
Taylor Schaffer, president and CEO of Downtown Indy, Inc., provided this statement:
"While today’s announcement is disappointing, data indicates that Downtown continues to be the safest district in Indianapolis, accounting for less than 5% of overall crime. We are committed to ensuring that residents and visitor alike feel safe in our Regional Center. That’s why we are collaborating with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department to prioritize investment in public safety initiatives including increased patrols, the instillation of new crime-fighting technologies, and engagement from Downtown Indy, Inc.'s safety ambassadors. This strategy is showing success — contributing to unprecedented investment in our Downtown — with more than $3.8 billion in planned development and an occupancy rate of nearly 97% in residential properties. A safe Indianapolis is a priority for all of us, no matter what part of town. Yet, we remain committed to working with our partners to ensure that the Mile Square and all of Downtown continues to be the safest neighborhood in Indianapolis."