Starbucks is often the first place that comes to mind for a quick jolt of caffeine. But will it transform into an evening hangout for a post-workday, alcoholic pick-me-up?
The Seattle-based coffee retailer has been testing the sale of beer and wine at stores in Seattle and Portland, and has plans to expand that concept to stores in Chicago, Atlanta and Southern California by the end of 2012.
"We have been pleased with the response from our customers," Zack Hutson, a spokesperson for Starbucks, told CultureMap. "We're really just excited to see how that translates into other markets."
The Los Angeles Times notes that Starbucks currently offers $5 beers and by-the-glass wines for $7 to $9 in select locations: "Beer options include Rogue Dead Guy Ale, and the wine menu features a Pinot Noir from Oregon, a Prosecco from Italy and a Malbec from Argentina."
Starbucks introduced hot paninis and other healthy snacking options in Jan. 2010, and expanding options for later-in-the-day seems to be a natural extension. According to a company press release, new edible menu items will accompany the introduction of alcoholic drinks, like savory snacks, small plates and hot flatbread.
This is nothing different from the tried-and-true cafe notion, but will certainly set it apart from its fast-food competitors — and perhaps pose a greater threat to local cafes that already institute the morning-to-evening model.
Hutson says the company has no current plans to introduce the wine and beer line to Houston or Texas markets.
If they do eventually expand southward, would you unwind at your neighborhood Starbucks? Or would you prefer to spend your evenings away from your pit stop for morning caffeination?