Starbucks spikes U.S. menu with sale of alcohol
March 31, 2014
Since its first Seattle store opened in 1971, Starbucks has expanded to more than 20,000 stores across the globe. Recently, the company has announced that it plans to expand its sale of alcohol, previously available only at a small number of locations, to be available at thousands of stores across the United States.
Starbucks’ evening menu will be available after 4 p.m. and will include wine, beer and a selection of light, tapas-style menu choices. Menu items include a cheese plate, bacon wrapped dates, truffle mac ‘n’ cheese and chocolate fondue.
Starbucks began selling alcohol in 2010 at one of its Seattle stores. After the initial success of this evening menu, the company expanded to offer the new menu at 26 different locations in Chicago, Atlanta, Portland and the Los Angeles area.
Though the program is about to broaden, not all Starbucks stores will implement the new menu. Starbucks’ chief operating officer Troy Alstead said in an interview with Bloomberg that the program has had success in urban areas, especially where people are out on the streets at night.
“We’ve tested it long enough in enough markets, this is a program that works,” Alstead said. “As we bring the evening program to stores, there’s a meaningful increase in sales during that time of the day.”
The company plans to have as many as 40 stores serving its evening menu by the end of 2014, but the full expansion to a planned 2,000 locations will take years. With its plan for development, the coffee giant hopes to nearly double its market value, raising it to $100 billion. The alcoholic beverages will sell for a much higher price than the already expensive coffee drinks and will likely help boost sales at the time of day when business usually dwindles. Declining sales after the morning rush hour is a problem Starbucks faces, and with the introduction of new menu items, the chain hopes to combat this, but it will also have to face the costs of liquor licensing and employee training.
CAS freshman Elise Shivamber said she is apprehensive about Starbucks’ new sales strategy. She said she likes Starbucks for its atmosphere, and the sale of alcohol will change the setting.
“The lines are already long enough, and I do not need drunken people in there when I am trying to study,” Shivamber said. “If I wanted a different atmosphere, I would go somewhere else.”
Gallatin freshman Anya Urcuyo also thinks Starbucks’ sale of alcohol is not appealing.
“It’s kind of strange they’ll be serving alcohol,” Urcuyo said. “But the tapas sound interesting, I’d try those.”
While Starbucks’ brand may be too established by its coffee, their evening menu’s new food selections could still attract more business around the city.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, March 31 print edition. Rebecca Riddle is a staff writer. Email her at [email protected]