Thinking of hitting the town for happy hour? Starbucks hopes they might be the new location of choice as they expand the number of domestic locations in the United States which are now offering alcoholic beverages.
The move to serve alcohol started in Seattle with one restaurant offering beer in wine back in 2010, but the offering, which expanded to twenty-six stores soon after, will now expand the offering to thousands of locations in the next several years, according to spokeswoman Lisa Passé says.
“The concept is a natural progression for Starbucks as we seek to create a new occasion for customers to gather, relax and connect with each other in the evenings,” Passé says.
Why would Starbucks sell alcohol?
Starbucks is a competitor in what is considered a very competitive market and would like to remain on the leading edge of an industry trend to attract customers throughout the day and long into the night when their business has typically waned.
Critics of the new alcohol sales argue, however, that while the coffee chain is likely to win over some new customers, there is a risk they could turn off other loyal coffee drinkers who love coming the Starbucks for coffee and a nice read and don’t want to be part of the “party” and after work crowd. According to Starbucks, however, most of the change has been good. Starbucks suggest there has been little “blowback” from the increased sales of spirits.
But Starbucks is not alone. Other restaurants have also promoted the sale of alcohol over the last few years, primarily to increase profits. For example, Red Robin and Applebee’s have both marketed an increase in alcoholic sales in the last few years. Burger King, a fast food burger chain, has also been selling beer and burgers for over four years at its Whopper Bar in Miami Beach’s tourist-heavy South Beach.
Starbucks acknowledges it’s all about the money
The business decision to sell alcohol at Starbucks is clearly about profits. CEO Howard Schultz noted that the typical Starbucks customer spends about $5 per visit, but the sale could be doubled right away if wine and beer are purchased by that same customer. Starbucks has noted, however, that for now the sale of alcohol will be limited to the United States and will only include wine and beer.
Starbucks is also quick to note that coffee will remain the focus of the experience of Starbucks and many stores will continue to sell “shareable, warm small plates and desserts, artisan flatbreads, truffle mac n’ cheese, bacon-wrapped dates, salted caramel and cheesecake brownies.” Above all Starbucks wants to remain a true coffee house.
So what do you think? Should Starbucks stick to their traditional offerings or does it make great business sense to expand their menu options and offer beer and wine to attract a new type of customer?
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