Starbucks Pulls the Plug at Some WeHo Locations

Fri, Mar 10, 2017   By Staff    15 Comments
starbucks, west hollywood, westmount, big gay starbucks

Screenwriters at work at the “big gay” Starbucks at 8595 Santa Monica Blvd. at Westmount.

Starbucks, which has become known across the country and much of the world as the “third place” in our lives after home and the workplace (which rank first and second), is testing a “let’s make it slightly uncomfortable” model in West Hollywood.

The city’s newest Starbucks, which sits at the northwest corner of Santa Monica and Robertson boulevards, opened with relatively little indoor seating. And now it has removed its public electrical outlets, making it a less attractive gathering place for the screen writers and freelance publicists who have gathered there.

It has done the same thing at its location on the southeast corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and La Brea, where it is part of the Gateway.

“It happened about four months ago,” a Starbucks employee at the Gateway told WEHOville. “It’s a safety program that Starbucks is rolling out. We are part of the testing program, so they took out outlets.”

An employee at the Santa Monica and Robertson location told a somewhat different story. He said the outlets had been removed because of the large number of incidents involving customers who came just to charge a phone or computer and didn’t buy coffee. He acknowledged that most of them were homeless people.

A manager at the Starbucks on the northeast corner of Santa Monica Boulevard at Westmount said there have been similar incidents there, but that the staff has responded to them quickly and effectively so they haven’t been major problems. For now at least, the electrical outlets are safe at that location. Known as the “Big Gay Starbucks” (BGS) for a crowd that includes screenwriters, actors and more than a few porn performers (and sometimes the editor and publisher of WEHOville), it is West Hollywood’s civic plaza.

Altercations there may have been good for Starbucks, given the publicity they have attracted. One example is the incident at the BGS in 2015 when Leslie Jordan, the Emmy Award winning actor known for his feisty personality as well as his Southern drawl, got into an altercation with three young and apparently heterosexual men who were using the slur “faggot” and making other homophobic remarks. Jordan shouted “not in my house” at the men, and followed them outside for a minor brawl that got coverage around the world and led to his being featured in a one-man show called “Not In My House!” at the Nikko, a cabaret at one of San Francisco’s most posh hotels.

A lot of publicity also was generated in 2014 by a “fake news” story that claimed pop-star Justin Bieber walked into the BGS “with no shirt on and his pants hanging down and underwear showing and tried to order a caramel apple machiatto.” According to that discredited story, Bieber asked his bodyguard to assault the barrista who refused to serve him. The real baristas said they were overwhelmed by telephone calls about the “incident.”

Things haven’t changed at the two other WeHo Starbucks locations. The one at 8363 Sunset Blvd. near Kings Road has electric outlets – on the ceiling. So you have to bring a long cord to get a charge. And the tiny one on the northwest corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Fairfax hasn’t had electric outlets in 10 years, an employee told WEHOville.

If the removal of electrical outlets is a test, it’s not clear what is being tested. Is Starbucks hoping for more customer turnover if folks can’t linger at its tables? Is it hoping to make its coffee shops less attractive to the homeless, many of whom do have cell phones even if they don’t have shoes or a pillow? Starbucks media folks still haven’t responded to WEHOville inquiries.

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15 Comments

  1. Joan HenehanFri, Mar 10, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    Tableside parking meters?

  2. JJFri, Mar 10, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    The homeless are a BIG issue in and around the Starbucks at the Pavilions shopping center. Combined with the recycle center in the parking lot, it’s a really BIG issue for the neighborhood….and the City has done little to nothing to address it.

  3. Wesley McDowellFri, Mar 10, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    It’s not surprising that these 2 locations would take this action. I’ve witnessed how they treat homeless persons and find it appalling. On one occasion a BGS employee was on the sidewalk screaming profanities at a woman who was only standing on the sidewalk where, I might add, she had a right to be. Treating other people with such disgust and disdain is very sad. Interestingly, Coffee Bean has a very different attitude. On the morning I witnessed the incident above, I saw on CBTL employee hand a homeless person a cup of coffee.

    I’ve been around homeless people a lot and yes, sometimes they smell. So would any of us who didn’t have access to a shower or proper restroom facilities. Think of how you would like to be treated if you were in a similar circumstance. All of us, no matter our station in life, deserve dignity and respect. I’ve seen people yell at homeless people to get up in the morning. Is that how we like to be awakened? My approach has been to simply say: Good morning! It’s time to get up. The response has been much more pleasant.

    Homelessness is society’s problem and one we much address. It is gratifying that the City of LA and now the County of LA are finally confronting this in a meaningful way. In Weho, where all the “pretty people” gather, we certainly don’t want to spoil ourselves with “those people.” Perhaps these Starbucks can think of a better way to act.

  4. Nir ZilbermanFri, Mar 10, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    Pulls the Plug?
    Thanks to our city leadership, “helping” our homeless?
    where?
    Talk. talk. talk and NO ACTIONS.
    Moving them from one corner to other, what about getting them help?
    rehab? shelters? mental health?
    So sad, most of them are Gay men, they used to be like you and i, they got into using METH, DRINKING, Some living with AIDS in our streets, WAKE UP, WEST HOLLYWOOD!
    ENOUGH TALKING.

  5. WeHoMikeyFri, Mar 10, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    Thanks, Nir.
    Sorry you didn’t like it here.

  6. KyleFri, Mar 10, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    And the property owners of the Robertson Pavilions propertyand the city have been repeatedly told that having the corner fountain’s lighting dead and the fountain corroded and filthy attracts much trouble at night. It used to be such a beautiful fountain with the night lighting, jets working, and clean.

  7. fine7760Fri, Mar 10, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    The city needs to set up a walk-in facility near Starbucks plus comprehensive street monitors who can assist those homeless for what ever reason and refer them to local facilities they can be comfortable using. Let us not forget part of the Gateway Project was supposed to address this issue when the developers utilized the cities power of imminent domain securing land from owners who had their own re-development plans. The excuse of money is but a joke. Either build a homeless facility adjacent to Gateway or one nearby. And make it desirable, not some shelter like we see on skid row in downtown L.A.

  8. kab1200Sat, Mar 11, 2017 at 1:01 am

    There are actually lots of services for the homeless in Weho, but you cannot force someone to take advantage of them. I do not believe most of the homeless are gay, as Nir said. Not sure how he would know that. Also, I don’t think the homeless are necessarily mistreated, but after the millionth time asking them to move on, I am sure the employees get frustrated. Especially with the one man, who uses the “F” word over and over. I wish there was a simple solution, but I can tell you, if I was a business owner, I would not want to be attracting the homeless either.

  9. Ricky MendozaSat, Mar 11, 2017 at 5:40 am

    The outlets on the ceiling are some kind of fire Dept requirement. Outlets on the ceiling are not intended for customer use. It’s troubling to see a poor report on Starbucks PR without real investigation. Not even a quote from the company itself.
    Yes homeless are an issue as Starbucks can become a great place for them when they get kicked out they’re shelter. Water, bathroom and electricity- oh and someone may want to feel good and buy a homeless something …. The issue is customers want to sit down and not feel guilty on a eating a $7 purchase. The employee isn’t trained to walk up to an unstable person become hostile as they ask them to please leave for the paying customer to sit in one of the 20 chairs available. Noone wants to accidently walk in on prostitution conduct on sunset and Labrea or a needle in the sink.(both experiences I encounter at that starbucks location.)

    The city has to continue to help focus on mental illness , drug addiction that causes the disruption of business. Instead of leaving it to Starbucks to “pull the plug” for the safety of it’s customers and employees.

  10. MannySat, Mar 11, 2017 at 6:43 am

    This is probably a good idea…….and It’d be nice if they’d also pull the plug on the Pavilion’s Indoor Dog Park.

  11. MarkSat, Mar 11, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    If you think the homeless hanging out at the gay Starbucks is a problem, check out the ‘camps’ on the 2nd floor of the WEHO Library on any given weekday afternoon.

  12. Timmy Da TwinkSat, Mar 11, 2017 at 8:30 pm

    how do so many homeless have cellphones and BEATS headphones! Gay gasp like when Princess Di died!!!!

  13. Nir ZilbermanSat, Mar 11, 2017 at 10:57 pm

    kab1200,
    If you knew what i did for our homeless, you should search first, or make few phone calls to our city manager, our mayor, our council members or go direct to social services managers.

    For those who know, my amazing human angeles and myself from Love NO Hate,
    took care of them, we took them 5 days a week to have a hot showers at Saban clinics, we fed them daily, took them to get medical help, took them to Rehab centers in long beach & Tarzana, to PATH and so much more…

    So please respect, if not me, those who supported our friends, our homeless. My angeles.

    how do i know they are most LGBTQ? are you kidding me, i spent months with them, even slept on the streets with them until the city shout us down. but we still drove and helped them. and yes, when the city claimed, we only had 43 homeless, the # jump to 87 in 2 weeks. we at Love NO Hate, did everything from our heart, our city mayor, Lauren, Paul our city manager came with few other council members and gave us cloths and food.
    we never asked for money only love.

    For those that think i did not like WEHO, I LOVE, WEHO.
    I left because many reason, i kept my Beautiful home in WEHO. One of the reason i left is because i have an amazing 85 years old father and the best mother ( both Holocaust survivors) in ISRAEL, and as a person who believe, family first. my heart was here with them, i did not wait to get a phone call one day that something happened to them, I rather spend with my HEROES, my parents when they are alive.
    So, just like i voted in the election last week by mail, I DO CARE ENOUGH, ABOUT WEHO.

    Do i think it’s a lot to be done in WEHO?
    Absolutely BIG YES!

    To name a few…our METH and drugs problems, Our Alcohol and other addictions, Our STD’s, our young man “sleeping” and selling they body to pay rent, and so many of our elderly don’t get the support that they deserve, i know the time is now.

    Love. Peace from TEL AVIV. ISRAEL.

  14. Jerome ClearySun, Mar 12, 2017 at 10:04 am

    Several weeks ago at the Sunset Blvd. Coffee Bean location at Horn Avenue an employee asked a young woman who was sleeping at a table that she would have to buy something or leave. She got up and then got in line to go the bathroom and then a few minutes later she grabbed a large ceramic coffee mug from the display shelf and violently smashed it on the floor and left.

  15. MichaelMon, Mar 13, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    This article connects to a number of problems under the general umbrella of “WeHo is flooded with loiterers.” The homeless people at coffeehouses and the library. The young unemployeds (or underemployeds) who think buying a $2 coffee at 10am should include 8 hours of free air-conditioned social/workspace complete with power outlets. The old Russians who’ve turned the mall at 8000 Sunset into their daily campground. There’s just a growing number of people within a small radius here who don’t have anything to do during the day, and don’t want to sit indoors.

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