Is the Big Gay Starbucks re-opening in West Hollywood? The WeHo Starbucks, located in the Ramada Plaza, at 8595 Santa Monica Blvd., is on a list of six Los Angeles County stores that the National Labor Relations Board determined were closed to halt employees from unionizing. The New York Times reports that Federal labor regulators have accused Starbucks of illegally closing 23 stores to stop employees from organizing and it is looking to force the company to reopen them.
The National Labor Relations Board alleges that Starbucks had closed the stores because its employees engaged in union activities. At least seven of the 23 stores identified had unionized.
According to the report, the complaint consolidated cases that arose from locations across the country. It is the latest in a series of accusations by federal officials that Starbucks has broken the law during a two-year labor campaign.
The six locations in LA County include, the 8595 Santa Monica Blvd., in West Hollywood (Santa Monica and Westmount store); 5453 Hollywood Blvd (Hollywood and Western); 120 S Los Angeles St. (1st and Los Angeles); 6290 Hollywood Blvd. (Hollywood and Vine); 1601 Ocean Front Walk, (Ocean Front Walk & Moss store), 232 E. 2nd St. (2nd & San Pedro)
The matter is scheduled to go before an administrative judge next summer unless Starbucks settles it earlier. In addition to asking the judge to order the stores to be reopened, the complaint wants employees to be compensated for the loss of earnings or benefits and for other costs they incurred because of the closures.
“This complaint is the latest confirmation of Starbucks’ determination to illegally oppose workers’ organizing,” said Mari Cosgrove, a member of Starbucks Workers United. “It adds to the litany of complaints detailed in the company’s own report released this morning. If Starbucks is sincere in its overtures in recent days to forge a different relationship with its partners, this is exactly the kind of illegal behavior it needs to stop.”
The West Hollywood Starbucks closed on July 31, 2022, at 2pm, after being at the location for 27 years. According to employees at the time, business had been steady despite some shortage in foot traffic after 24-Hour Fitness Super Sport gym closed across the street in November. Management said it boiled down to the escalation of heated arguments and confrontations at the store–not just from people experiencing homelessness and individuals with mental health issues, but also from irate customers who were described as entitled, angry, and who are becoming more physically aggressive.
The Santa Monica & Fairfax Starbucks Located at 7901 Santa Monica Blvd, also closed permanently in West Hollywood that year, on February 6. That location experienced a lot of crime and was constantly getting its windows smashed. The company opted not to renew their lease.
The closing of the Big Gay Starbucks in West Hollywood was a huge blow to a community that was still grieving over the loss of the 24-Hour Fitness Sport gym. Both businesses were fixtures in that area for decades. The space currently sits empty a year later and could qualify to re-open at its original location if they are able to work a deal with the property owner.
With John Reed Fitness gym now open at the former 24-Hour fitness space, the return of the Big Gay Starbucks in West Hollywood could bring a sense a normalcy to that area.