Starbucks, Panera Bread Nix Indoor Seating Due to Problems with Homeless

(NBC New York) Two popular restaurant chains are taking matters into their own hands when it comes to handling the problem of homelessness in Hoboken, and the new policy is drawing mixed reactions.

During lunch hour in the city’s downtown area, two of the most popular spots on Washington Avenue — Starbucks and Panera Bread — have no one sitting down inside, enjoying a meal or a coffee.

The tables that once occupied a space inside the Panera are now stacked up in the back of the restaurant. A sign advises customers that it’s take out and delivery only.

Both restaurants have eliminated indoor seating to circumvent a growing problem: homelessness.

“As an Uber Eats delivery man who waits in front of Panera and Starbucks for deliveries, I noticed homeless people every day sitting in Starbucks…some friendly, some not so much. They hang out from open to just about close,” said deliveryman Nick DeFelice.

A manager at the Panera confirmed to NBC New York that they did in fact remove the dining tables from the floor about two weeks ago after a fight between customers believed to be homeless. The manager noted that some of the individuals have become increasingly aggressive, and that the company didn’t want to do it, but felt it was necessary for the safety of their customers and staff.