Starbucks Plans to Reopen Most US Stores Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Weeks after nationwide stay-at-home orders forced people to stay inside and many business to close their doors, Starbucks says it will open 85 percent of its stores in the United States by the end of the week. In a letter to employees on Monday, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson revealed that the international coffee chain plans to reopen 90 percent of stores by early June with new precautions put in place to create what he called “a third place experience.”

"After seven weeks of sheltering at home in the U.S., we have embraced an approach of monitoring, rapidly adapting to, and even shaping, the 'now normal,'" Johnson wrote. "As we gradually come out of isolation, people will crave the connection and community that are fundamental to humanity. However, customers will want experiences that are safe, familiar and convenient. With health and safety prioritized, we are defining the future of Starbucks to meet evolving customer expectations and societal change. Starbucks is committed to create a third place experience that is exactly tuned to that need — providing safe, familiar and convenient experiences."

Writing that the foundation of the re-opening approach "comes from what we have learned in China" and adding that the coffee chain adapted these protocols for the U.S. with the goal of exceeding the standards outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Johnson said that there will be a heightened emphasis on cleaning and sanitizing protocols in our stores.

Hoping to adhere to social distancing, the chain "will also shift toward more cashless experiences, knowing that the handling of cash creates consumer concerns about the spread of viruses." As a result, the mobile app, which is already used by about 20 million customers, will likely "become the dominant form of payment." Johnson added that the chain will roll out new features to the mobile app, including optimizing for curbside pick-up, entryway handoff, improved drive-thru experiences, and voice ordering through Siri, among others.

"As we adapt, we build on our heritage and remain focused on our mission: To inspire and nurture the human spirit — one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time," Johnson wrote. "This global pandemic will serve as a reminder that life is fragile and create a renewed appreciation for health, love and joy. On the other side of this challenge, we will treasure human connections — from warm embraces with our loved ones to small everyday interactions with those in our communities — like we never have before. Human connections will not only be restored, but reinforced and re-invigorated. The third place will not just survive, but with adaptations and new routines, it will thrive."