Temporary closure of Osborne Village Starbucks now permanent, company says

A decision last month by Starbucks to close the store in Winnipeg’s Osborne Village on a temporary basis has now become permanent.

“I can confirm after careful evaluation the Osborne Village store will remain closed,” Leanna Rizzi, a company spokesperson, told CBC News in an emailed statement.

The store on River Avenue, near Osborne Street, was locked up as of May 5. At the time, the company called it a temporary closing and said it hadn’t set a date for reopening.

No reason for the closure was given by the company back then, but Starbucks customers and the Osborne Business Improvement Zone said they had been told it was due to safety concerns.

There had been a number of violent incidents in the area over the previous several months, including an assault at a neighbouring Liquor Mart and a stabbing at the Shoppers Drug Mart.

And just a few days ago, a 56-year-old man was rushed to hospital in serious condition after being found unconscious from an assault near the same Shoppers, which is steps from the Starbucks entrance.

Rizzi said on Monday that Starbucks routinely conducts evaluations to determine how to best serve customers, communities and its own employees to create “the best Starbucks experience.”

“This includes opening new locations, identifying stores in need of investment or renovation, exploring locations where an alternative format is needed, and in some instances, we re-evaluate where our stores are located,” she said in the email.

In the case of the Osborne store, safety concerns were part of the conversation.

“There are several factors we consider when evaluating our store portfolio, and the personal safety and security of our partners is of utmost importance to us and is always something we consider when reviewing the experience in our stores,” the email said. Starbucks calls its employees partners.

There had been rumours some employees at the Osborne store were organizing a union. Asked if that was true, and if it played into the company’s decision, Rizzi said, “This is not true to our knowledge.”

Store reviews are made regularly and without regard to union status, she said.

All employees at the Osborne store have been offered an opportunity to transfer to other locations.