Starbucks CEO's Letter Indicates Company Steering Toward Closing Stores At Malls And Opening New Locations With Drive-Thrus

May 26, 2020

Starbucks' plans to establish a "third place" are among the company's top priorities, CEO and president Kevin Johnson announced in a May 21 letter to the company's U.S. partners describing its “Bridge to the Future” plan.

"Our digital leadership and ability to transform lower performing locations and formats to successful new store formats (i.e., relocate Starbucks stores from low-traffic malls to new, thriving Starbucks locations that combine the third place with drive-thrus) are unique strengths that we will lean into in the coming months," he added.

In a previous letter, he described "the third place" as "a warm and welcoming place, outside of our homes and our workspaces, where we connect and build community. We think of the third place as a mindset — a feeling of comfort that uplifts customers everywhere, and in every way, they experience Starbucks. And the third place has never been more relevant than now, as communities seek to reconnect and heal."

The company has also extended its employees COVID-19 unpaid leave policy through the end of September, the May 21 letter stated.