New Starbucks to Serve Alcohol

Coffee giant Starbucks will debut a new concept this week in Seattle. Coffee will be served, but not under the ubiquitous name and green trade dress, and beer and wine also will be on the menu.

The Seattle-based operator of 16,000-plus stores worldwide is testing the neighborhood coffeehouse concept at a Starbucks store once slated for closure. Named 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea after its locale, the store will feature coffee and coffee drinks, with espresso pulled from a manual machine. The Starbucks name will be notably absent; even the bagged coffee for retail sale will be branded 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea. Poetry readings and local musicians will add an artsy touch — a la traditional coffeehouses — and the ambiance will be infused with local materials and décor elements.

Two additional locations may be reformatted in a similar sans-Starbucks way. Dow Jones Newswire reports the trial could be expanded to other markets.

Removing the coffee giant’s name and introducing adult beverages is undoubtedly part of management’s strategy to re-invigorate the brand and the stock performance. The company that hooked the world on $5 coffee drinks has suffered during the recession, closing hundreds of stores and laying off nearly 7,000 employees. The addition of alcohol provides an added draw for consumers looking for a before- or after-dinner meeting place to socialize and relax. Stay tuned.

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