THE BOOZE BIN
By Pia Mara Finkell (@piamara)
After testing the concept in several Northwest stores, Starbucks announced its plans to add wine, beer and accompanying tapas dishes to around half a dozen stores in Chicago next year.
According to a recent article in the Seattle Times, Starbuck’s spokesman Alan Hilowitz reports the coffee chain will focus on appropriate neighborhoods for this concept. He added the addition of wine and beer to test stores has resulted in “double-digit sales growth after 4pm.”
A Chicago Tribune article discussed Starbucks’ hope to create a “more community-oriented store” to help them compete with local watering holes for consumer’s happy hour dollars. Their hope is the non-bar atmosphere and availability of coffee options for those abstaining or simply underage will better help them fill seats during the evening daypart.
Other fast food chains selling booze to boost sales include Burger King, Sonic and Pizza Hut. While adding alcohol to their menus can offer greater sales opportunities for the late afternoon and evening crowd, there is some discussion that the risk might not be worth the investment given increased liability comes with the turf.
Starbucks clearly believes the risk is worthwhile and will continue to look for appropriate stores for an added wine and beer list. Along with booze, the coffee chain will experiment with live music, poetry and other entertainment to further attract the evening crowd and boost sales.
It seems to be a logical next step for Starbucks. Call me old fashioned though, but I still enjoy my friendly corner bar for a pint and a wine or tapas bar for a glass of vino. It’s nice to have options though, so to each his own.
One hopeful thought is Starbucks will focus on local wines in each of their shops to demonstrate support of the local community. Cheers to that!