Black coffee shops hope to snag new customers as Starbucks closes for the day for racial bias training

Omega Psi Phi fraternity brothers protest at Starbucks thegrio.com
Philly.com

As Starbucks closes its stores today to launch racial bias training, smaller coffeehouses are benefitting and seeing a surge in customers as more people search for shops that are more inclusive and accepting.

One such place in Philly, Franny Lou’s Porch, is seen by many as a welcoming place where owner Blew Kind allows folks to sit and go with the flow, reportsNBC News.

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“Sometimes they just need a place to chill,” Kind said. That’s a stark contrast to having the police called on you for sitting in a coffee shop, which happened just a few miles from Kind at a Starbucks in the city.

 A Safe Space

Two men were arrested after a white manager called the police on them for sitting and waiting for a business associate. That kind of discrimination is what’s driving people into Kind’s shop as more people patronize more Black-owned coffee shops that are accepting and don’t kick customers to the curb.

In fact, Kind said once a man high on drugs tried to steal money from her tip jar. She responded with laughter and not a call to the cops.

Kind is finding that people consider her shop as a safe place.

“I’d rather give my coins to Blew & crew than racist Starbucks,” read a note left by a customer.

Phoenix Mystique, a Black entrepreneur and singer, frequents Franny Lou’s Porch because of Kind’s openness. She has hosted an art series at the shop called “Grown Folks Music.”

“It’s an environment of love,” said Mystique, 35. “I have friends who don’t go to Rittenhouse Square because they don’t like the elitist vibe. This is a breath of fresh air on so many levels.”

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Last month the coffee chain dominated the headlines after two Black men sitting quietly at one of their Philadelphia branches. And after #BoycottStarbucks took off like wildfire, their CEO Kevin Johnson went on a national apology tour that ultimately resulted in the announcement that they would be closing 8,000 company-owned stores on May 29th to put its 175,000 employees through “bias training.”

Today Kind will participate in a roundtable along with other Black coffee shop owners for a to further the conversation about inclusivity and racial justice. The event is being held at Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse.

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