While Starbucks was closed Tuesday afternoon for anti-bias training, black-owned coffee shops in Seattle stayed open.
That included Café Avole in South Seattle. The coffee shop, owned by Solomon Dubie, specializes in Ethiopian specialty coffee.
Gavin Lopez, who is Operations Manager at Café Avole, said he was drawn to work for someone with whom he could relate.
“There’s not a lot of black coffee shops in Seattle. There’s not a lot of black specialty coffee shops in Seattle,” he said.
Starbucks closed more than 8,000 stores in the U.S. on Tuesday afternoon to conduct employee training "to address implicit bias" and "prevent discrimination" after two black men were arrested at a Philadelphia store in April.
“At least Starbucks is being accountable. I think it’s better than nothing,” said Lopez, who started his coffee career as a Starbucks barista.
He said he wants to see more corporate changes.
“To me, if they really want to make real change, I gotta see it at the corporate level, I gotta see it in the hiring practices," Lopez said.
Lopez believes Café Avole has a more welcoming message, which he said can include customers staying for hours at a time.
“If you respect them, they’ll respect you,” he said. “I do know what it’s like to walk around and feel like I’m a threat. Feel paranoid because people are staring at me.”