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Starbucks Expands Alcohol-Serving Locations

Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 6, 2011 12:02 PM

Starbucks has the morning-coffee-run market pretty much locked up, but now it has plans for your afternoon and evenings as well. It has been testing how well beer and wine sales do at five locations in Seattle and one in Portland, Ore., for the last two years and it’s done so well that the company is planning to start offering alcohol at five to seven of its locations by the end of next year, according to the Chicago Sun-Times

In a bid to woo customers in other "dayparts" (read: off-peak hours when office workers are sufficiently caffeinated), its licensed alcohol-serving venues don't serve alcohol until after 2 p.m. each day and would also add such things as almonds and bread with olive oil dip to the food menu.

The first such location appeared in 2009 in Seattle as a concept location bearing a new brand name, 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea, the Seattle Times reports, and then reverted to the Starbucks name.

"It's something our customers have really been responding to," said spokesman Alan Hilowitz to the Times. "They want to sit and relax, and maybe one person wants to have coffee and the other wants beer or wine. People also can go out after work without having to go to a bar, and people who are underage can go and have a cup of coffee instead."

There are always exceptions to the rule, of course. One visitor to the company's wine-serving Portland, Oregon, location (which advertises its wine-and-entertainment pairings on Twitter, such as the tweet below) wrote a skeptical review on Yelp!: “I'm not really sure what Starbucks is aiming for, and it makes me suspicious.”

Rest assured, wary Yelper: the chain does not plan to eventually offer alcohol at all of its locations, according to the Times. "It's got to fit the neighborhood," Hilowitz said, according to the Times. This is a drumbeat that Starbucks has been hitting since last year when it made a public commitment to offer more local products on its menus.

The Chicago Tribune also notes that Starbucks “has also been experimenting with live entertainment, including music, poetry readings or theater, depending on the neighborhood.”

Comments

Gerry Berry United Kingdom says:

This just seems off-brand to me ... other than the desire to generate sales, does Starbucks really need to become a bar for part of the day? Food doesn't feel like as much of a stretch as this does.

December 7, 2011 10:59 PM #

Pay United States says:

"hey, do you want to grab some Starbucks"
"sure"
"oh, I mean Alcohol"
"really?"
-Starbucks is changing its brand image. I think it is confusing to change from Coffee to Alcohol. The audiences are totally difference.  Don't think the alcohol market will be as good as coffee kimdom it has established.  It might disrupt the concentration of the business.

December 10, 2011 01:55 PM #

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December 10, 2011 09:15 PM #

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