Casual dining operators have yet another competitor, and this time it’s big! Starbucks launches its nationwide "Evenings" beer and wine program.
Starbucks is speeding up its move to sell wine and craft beer the U.S. Starting in mid-August, the “third place” company began selling wine and beer, along with the sale of small plates such as bacon-wrapped dates and truffle mac 'n cheese, at two dozen new locations. The company also submitted liquor license applications for several hundred more locations in recent months and is optimistic that it will have many of those stores selling beer and wine by the end the year, Rachel Antalek, vice president of concept innovations and Starbucks sommelier, told USA Today.
"We learned resoundingly that our customers want to come to Starbucks and have a glass of wine or a craft beer," Antalek said in an interview at a company store in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, which will sell adult beverages this week. "There aren't that many places to go in the evening where you can go very relaxed, very casual. It's not loud. You can actually have a small group and hear yourself talk."
After new units started serving beverage alcohol, that brought total above 70 locations selling wine and beer. Denver, Miami, Orlando and Northern California markets are serving wine and beer, as well as a recently-opened, 2,900 square foot location in Brooklyn. Since 2010, units in Washington state, Oregon, Los Angeles, Chicago, Florida, and Atlanta markets were test markets. More than 2,000 stores
After nearly five years of experimenting with the concept, in the months ahead, patrons of the coffee chain will see the concept, called “Evenings” pop up in more than 2,000 of its more than 12,000 U.S. units.