A Tampa man said he was banned from Starbucks for defending people with disabilities.
Rob Rowen, owner of Nuance Galleries in Tampa, received a letter in the mail on Thursday from Starbucks Corporate Office that read he is no longer allowed on any Starbucks property for, "causing disruption to business" and "threatening the well-being of a customer."
Rowen said he reached out to Starbucks after noticing several customers illegally parking in the handicapped space at the store on South Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa.
"Instead of it being a 'we're sorry' letter, it's a 'you're not allowed to come back to any Starbucks, anywhere.' It's a notice of expulsion and warning against trespassing. I mean, it floored me!" Rowen told FOX 13.
Over several months, a Starbucks manager advised Rowen several times that he was harassing customers by asking them to move their vehicles if they were parked in the only designated handicapped space in front of the store.
"Usually they respond nicely, and they move their cars," explained Rowen. "Occasionally there have been people who challenge me. A couple of times, we've actually had the police come out."
One instance in particular, Rowen said a woman who did not have a handicapped permit refused to move her vehicle and called the police on him for harassing her inside the store. Rowen said the police arrived and gave the woman a $250 ticket for parking illegally, however, he was not cited.
"I certainly don't feel like I'm harassing somebody. I never said anything nasty, I never raised my voice, I never threatened them," Rowen added. "The worst threat I ever did was when I told one person if he didn't move his car, I might tell everybody in the store that he was parked illegally."
Rowen is passionate about standing up for the disabled. He has a son-in-law with muscular dystrophy who relies on handicapped parking.
The Starbucks store manager advised Rowen he was no longer welcome at the Dale Mabry location, but days later, he got a letter in the mail advising him to stay away from all Starbucks coffee chains.
"I'm just not going to shut my mouth," said Rowen.
He is obeying the request and staying out of Starbucks. Rowen said he is finding other local coffee shops as an alternative coffee source.
Starbucks officials said they are talking with the landlord at their Dale Mabry location in hopes of improving the parking concerns in the future.
"We understand Mr. Rowen's concerns and have been speaking with him about this. Unfortunately, he became confrontational toward other customers, and we have asked him to refrain from visiting the store," said Laurel Harper, a spokesperson for Starbucks Corporate. "We expect all of our customers to treat each other and our partners (employees) respectfully."
Harper said there is a chance Rowen could be welcomed back to Starbucks in the future if he agrees not to disrupt other customers.