As we noted last month, Starbucks has been quietly testing beer and wine sales in a handful of markets including Portland, Oregon, in order to woo customers during quieter "day parts" (read: after the coffee rush tails off in the mid-afternoon and into the evening). Today the brand confirmed the expansion of its U.S. locations introducing alcoholic beverages along with small plates of artisanal food such as dessert and cheese pairings (more details in its press release below).
Spiking its coffee menu with alcohol “makes sense if you think of the way that McDonald’s grew its business by going into breakfast” and specialty coffees, Interbrand SVP Bill Chidley commented to Bloomberg. “At a certain point, you need to grow revenue, you need to give people other reasons to come in.” The challenge: getting customers to expand their perception of Starbucks; and selling alcohol may turn off some families with children, he said. “It certainly is going to be controversial," Chidley added.
How Starbucks competitors respond will be closely watched. Can Drunkin Donuts be far behind?
Starbucks to Extend Evening Day Part Concept
(SEATTLE, January 23, 2012) Responding to customer feedback for more options to relax in its stores in the evenings, Starbucks Coffee Company (NASDAQ:SBUX) today announced plans to bring wine, beer and premium food offerings to a handful of locations in Atlanta and Southern California by the end of this year. These stores, along with several others recently announced for the Chicago area, will be the first extensions of the evening day-part concept outside of the Pacific Northwest.
“Building an evening day-part is a natural progression for us as we are always looking for ways to evolve and enhance the Starbucks Experience based on what our customers are telling us,” said Clarice Turner, senior vice president, U.S. Operations. “We’re pleased with the response of our customers to the introduction of wine, beer and premium food at several of our stores in the Pacific Northwest, and we’re excited to see how the idea translates to other markets.”
Since first introducing the evening day-part concept at its Olive Way location in Seattle in October 2010, Starbucks has seen success creating a new occasion for customers later in the day through an expanded food and beverage menu. Five stores in the Seattle area and one in Portland, Oregon currently serve wine, beer and premium food. Late last year, Starbucks announced plans to bring the concept to five to seven locations in the Chicago area by the end of 2012. Atlanta and Southern California will each see four to six stores, also by the end of the year.
As part of an enhanced menu, these stores will serve new premium food (including savory snacks, small plates, and hot flatbreads) as well as wine and beer. The wine and beer list will be hand-selected to reflect local customer tastes and preferences, and will be refined over time. In addition to providing a product assortment not traditionally found at Starbucks, these stores will incorporate flexible seating to accommodate individuals and small groups as well as larger parties that want to host community meetings or other events such as book clubs.
“As our customers transition from work to home, many are looking for a warm and inviting place to unwind and connect with the people they care about,” said Turner. “At select stores where it is relevant for the neighborhood, we are focused on creating an atmosphere where our customers can relax with a friend, a small bite to eat and a cup of coffee or glass of wine.”
At this time, the evening day-part concept is only focused on Atlanta, the Chicago area, Southern California, and the Pacific Northwest.