Starbucks Adding Alcohol To Boost Evening Business

The coffee retailer is adding an evening menu with wine, beer and gourmet snacks in an attempt to ramp up evening sales.
Posted at 7:29 PM, Mar 20, 2014

An upcoming change at Starbucks could put the “bar” in “barista” as early as this summer.

The coffee giant will expand its alcohol and tea selections nationwide, rolling out its evening menu to more stores after years of testing. The menu includes bacon-wrapped dates and pinot grigio, along with a seasonal beer selection.

Chief Operating Officer Troy Alstead tells Businessweek Starbucks' evening menu is a proven success, saying, "As we bring the evening program to stores, there's a meaningful increase in sales during that time of the day."

It's all part of Starbucks' ambitious plan to almost double its market share to $100 billion. In addition to wine and beer, the chain recently purchased tea retailer Teavana and plans on opening several new tea-centric stores this year.

And Starbucks even brought in Oprah Winfrey to develop and market a special Oprah-branded chai tea that will be released in April.

"Oprah Chai! Everybody gets a chai! Now that is tea! Yeah!" (Via NBC / "Access Hollywood")

But don’t forget to get a scone with that chai. Starbucks' 2012 addition of San Francisco bakery La Boulange could mean an upgrade to the shop's behind-the-counter pastries later this year. (Via The Dallas Morning News)

Slate says the expansion is all about attracting the late night crowd. Beer and wine only make sense, the outlet says, writing: "Starbucks makes its money selling one addictive beverage. If it's going to fill those hours, it might as well branch out to another."

​​But it might not be a smooth transition. Some analysts say the debut of Starbucks Wines could lead to liability issues, as securities executive John Hoidas tells Fox Business.

"Well, you know, with alcohol, you bring a host of problems. Not only do you have a higher price margin, you have added insurance costs and liability, which affects the bottom line."

But Starbucks says the menu has been in testing since 2010 and is already a success. And as if beer and wine weren't enough, the company plans to let you order that chardonnay via your smartphone as the chain continues to make online ordering even simpler. (Via Bloomberg)