Starbucks to temporarily close amid crime and drug issues in Osborne Village – Winnipeg Free Press

A violent attack, in which a man is accused of trying to strangle another person, at a neighboring business appears to be the last straw for Starbucks in Osborne Village.

The cafe will close “temporarily” on May 5, amid rising crime and drug addiction in the area. Baristas have been trained to respond to customer questions with the following line: “It’s just so we can protect the (employee) and customer experience.”

Starbucks Coffee Canada remained vague about the reason for the closure of its popular location. The store, on the corner of River Avenue and Osborne Street, often has lines and a buzz of conversation.

The decision to temporarily close Starbucks' Osborne Village location comes after a

The decision to temporarily close Starbucks’ Osborne Village location comes after “careful consideration,” said Leanna Rizzi, the company’s communications manager. (Ruth Bonneville/Free Press)

The temporary closure comes after “careful consideration,” said Leanna Rizzi, the company’s director of communications.

“Starbucks periodically evaluates our store portfolio to determine how and where we can best meet the needs of our partners (and) customers,” he wrote in a statement, adding that “partners” means employees.

The review includes ensuring staff are “supported to serve customers in a warm and welcoming environment,” Rizzi continued.

She did not answer when, if at all, the place would reopen.

Starbucks closed 16 stores in the US in 2022 due to safety concerns.

The executive director of the Osborne Village BIZ believes the closure is related to an act of violence at a nearby Manitoba Liquor Mart.

Around 7pm on Wednesday, a man attacked another man while waiting in line. The liquor store staff called the police. When they arrived, an altercation ensued and police were forced to Taser the man, said Winnipeg Police Service spokesperson Ally Siatecki.

A 39-year-old man has been charged with assault by suffocation, suffocation or strangulation and has an outstanding warrant.

“What really concerns me is that there have been more incidents of this nature, not just in Osborne, but throughout the city,” said Zohreh Gervais, Osborne Village BIZ leader.

“What really worries me is that there have been more incidents of this nature…not just in Osborne, but across the city.”– Zohreh Gervais

“It is alarming to see that security is becoming a growing concern.”

If safety is a concern for Starbucks, the company could contact the Sabe Peace Walkers, who patrol the area Tuesday through Saturday, Gervais said.

Gervais has been tracking an increase in opioid-related incidents, he said, adding that he’s worried this summer will be worse than last.

“We cannot have successful businesses if the necessary pieces are not in place to keep people healthy and safe on the streets.”

Persistent crime and addiction speak to “a complete failure of our government” to address housing issues and mental health support, he said.

The River-Osborne area had a 99 per cent increase in overall crime year-over-year for the year ending November 2023, according to data from the Winnipeg Police Service.

Violent crimes increased 161 percent and property crimes increased nearly 83 percent. Last November, a woman was charged in a triple stabbing at Shoppers Drug Mart near the Osborne Village Starbucks.

“We need to continue to work on multiple fronts to assure everyone that we are listening, that we are hearing the concerns and that we are doing everything we can,” Coun said. Sherri Rollins (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry).

He listed several government initiatives to improve safety, including investing in Sabe Peace Walkers and the Downtown Community Safety Partnership.

Mayor Scott Gillingham and Premier Wab Kinew recently launched in-depth discussions on security at a summit, Rollins noted. She had said that she would like to see a more noticeable police presence in the Village.

News of Starbucks’ temporary closure dampened spirits on a dreary Thursday.

“It’s a chain restaurant, but it’s like a local coffee shop in Osborne,” said Joey Ekman, an employee at nearby Anytime Fitness.

Many people who live in the area do not have vehicles, he said.

“They have a lot to do,” Ekman said, looking out a window toward Osborne Street. “Look at that: there’s a girl walking around with a Starbucks.

“They’ll just grab a coffee and go to the little shops around here.”

Sreejit Manappetty, who lives and works in the area, also had a coffee.

“We need to continue to work on multiple fronts to assure everyone that we are listening, that we hear the concerns and that we are doing everything we can.”– Count. Sherri Rollins

“I think Starbucks closing will make Osborne a less safe place,” Manappetty said. “Starbucks here makes Osborne a good place.”

I was behind the counter at Osborne Vape Smoke & Bongs. The business was robbed last week, she said.

“Safety concerns, I understand that,” Manappetty said, adding that a vacant lot where Starbucks is would be “a bad thing.”

He hopes the restaurant will reopen and, if not, a coffee shop will take its place.