Less than two weeks after Kristen Salter, manager at Seattle's Best Coffee (SBC) on Broadway, sat down with The Stranger to discuss problems on that retail strip ["Broadway Hit," Amy Jenniges, August 16], the coffee corporation fired her.

"They just said it wasn't working out," Salter says. But the timing of SBC's decision to let her go--just three months after taking over the Broadway store, and days after the article's publication--is questionable.

SBC spokesperson Lauren Formicola says Salter's sudden unemployment is unrelated to the article. "It was nothing to do with anything she said to the press," Formicola says. SBC does request that employees clear any contact with the media through Formicola's office. It is against SBC policy to disclose the reason for an employee's dismissal.

No matter why she was fired, Salter used her role as a business leader to reach out to the community. Salter--a youthful woman with a passion for improving the neighborhood--has spent her months on Broadway working with the area's homeless youth, offering day-old pastries and drip coffee in exchange for completing small projects like tidying up the nearby dumpsters. She has also worked with Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets (PSKS)--a local homeless youth advocacy organization and drop-in center--to improve the situations of individual street kids.

"[SBC] had transferred me up here," says Salter, who relocated from Los Angeles in May. "They invested in me. So I knew I was a valuable employee."

Area business owners and community activists alike are upset about SBC's decision. "It concerns me, because we've worked very hard to build bridges [with businesses]," says Elaine Simons of PSKS.

On August 24, the board of Broadway's Business Improvement Association (BIA) drafted a letter to SBC's corporate office on Salter's behalf.

"It's really hard to find merchants who take the time to start finding solutions," says Barry Rogel, president of the BIA and owner of the Deluxe Bar and Grill at the north end of Broadway.

Though Salter doesn't want her position back, she met with a lawyer to discuss the situation. In the meantime, she's volunteering with Simons at PSKS headquarters.

"I was brought up here because I had a community mindset," Salter says. "It goes to show what they [SBC] care about."

amy@thestranger.com

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