September 19, 2016 Opportunity

Starbucks Store Manager Who Delivered to NY First Responders: ‘When did being nice become news?’

A Starbucks store manager who delivered coffee, milk and pastries to first responders following an explosion in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood doesn’t think he did anything exceptional.

Nearly 20 million people have watched a video (below) of Germaine Zolkos handing food and containers of coffee to a NYPD officer.

“It was the least I could do. They run to danger, and I wish I could have done more,” said Zolkos, a 14-year Starbucks partner (employee). “What does it say about our society that being nice is a big deal?”

The Starbucks store Zolkos manages at 23rd Street and 5th Avenue was among the businesses and residences evacuated Saturday night after an explosion blew windows out of buildings injuring 29 people. An unexploded pressure-cooker device was also found four blocks away and is being analyzed by the FBI. Authorities have arrested a suspect they believe is connected to explosions in both New York and New Jersey over the weekend.

Zolkos, a Bronx native, couldn’t get ahold of two of his baristas to tell them the store was closed. He waited to connect with them in person and reported back to his district manager that everyone was safe and accounted for.

He then felt compelled to do more. Zolkos went to another Starbucks down a block and picked up three 96 fluid ounce coffee travelers, a couple of cups of milk, and as many scones and muffins as the store could spare to deliver to a nearby police command post.

“I didn’t think there would be a huge reaction to just dropping off Starbucks, but the officers were definitely happy to see me and then I later found out someone was recording it,” he said. “So many people are telling me I did something really special. I like to care for others, so this was just natural for me. Anyone who comes into my store and other Starbucks around New York City gets this same kind of personal attention. It’s who we all are.”

While he said the attention is “overwhelming” and not something he expected, Zolkos hopes this simple act of kindness can help change others’ perspectives.

Anybody can do something simple to make a difference, whether that’s just making someone smile or showing a little compassion realizing we all have some challenge in our lives. Extending empathy toward others is something Zolkos is more aware of now that he has a son with autism.

“I have three kids and always want them to care about others around them,” he said. “If nothing else I now have a video that helps them realize what can happen when you’re a kind person and they’ll have a story to tell about their dad.”

For more information on this story, contact the Starbucks Newsroom