The curious case of Houston's shuttered Starbucks after Hurricane Harvey

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As life in parts of the Bayou City that escaped the worst of Harvey's wrath slowly began its return to normalcy, one major business that remained largely closed captured the attention of coffee lovers around the city: Starbucks.

While mom and pop coffee shops and even other national chains began to reopen their stores within days of the storm, many Starbucks locations within the 610 Loop remained closed for more than a week, creating a noticeable caffeine chasm in a city with such a heavy concentration of Starbucks locations.

The good news? Over the past several days, the majority of Starbucks locations have begun to resume normal operations - and the PSLs are flowing.

"Our local leadership's focus beyond the safety of our people and making sure that they're well taken care of is making sure that we can get back up and running and able to serve the community," Starbucks global corporate communication manager Reggie Borges told ABC13. "We're ready to go and we're making that happen."

While Starbucks is still conducting damage estimates for its dozens of properties around the area, Borges said that many stores did not appear to sustain serious, long-term damage as Harvey bore down.

Employees were still paid for the time they would have been working while their stores were closed, as were employees who were unable to return to work even after their store reopened. The company is also raising grant money to support employees who were directly impacted.

He also pointed out that city-imposed curfews in some instances interrupted delivery - which often occurs in the overnight hours - also impacting stores' operations.

"When you go through something like Harvey, having something as normal as your morning cup of coffee means so much more in those immediate days after," Borges said, adding that local employees were "eager" to get back to work and support the community.

The stores that are open are handing out free coffee to first responders, Borges said, and stores nationally have raised more than $600,000 to support Harvey relief efforts.

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