Starbucks closes thousands of stores for racial bias training

Posted: Updated:
NEWARK -

Turning away customers looking for an afternoon jolt of caffeine, Starbucks shops across the U.S. closed early to hold training for employees on recognizing hidden prejudices.

The Tuesday meetings were part of the coffee chain's effort to deal with the outcry over the arrest of two black men last month for sitting in a Philadelphia Starbucks without buying anything.

After the incident, the company's leaders apologized and met with the men, and scheduled an afternoon of training for 175,000 employees at more than 8,000 stores, including the chain’s flagship store in Seattle’s Pike Place Market.

There has been a movement since the Starbucks controversy to support African-American-owned coffee shops in U.S. Newark’s Black Swan Espresso owner Laura Mashtaler says that the Starbucks incident is unfortunate. She says that she supports the company's training day.

“We've been recognized more for the coffee shop that we are because of this incident with Starbucks,” Mashtaler says. “So we get a lot more customers of all colors, of all ethnicities. So I think that’s a good thing that we get everybody coming."

Some analysts say that they believe the Starbucks closures cost the company $12 million in lost revenue.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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