Sat, Mar 22, 2014 - Page 15 News List

Starbucks unveils plan to serve beer, wine in more cafes

AP, NEW YORK

Starbucks employees hand out gift bags to attendees of the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting in Seattle on Wednesday.

Photo: Reuters

Starbucks Corp plans to turn more of its US cafes into spots for beer and wine in the evenings.

The US-based global coffee company says it is looking to expand alcohol sales to “thousands of select stores” over the next several years, although it did not provide details on an exact timeline.

The chain first offered beer and wine after 4pm at one of its Seattle cafes in 2010. The drinks are now in about 26 cafes, with plans to reach 40 by the end of the year. The cafes with alcohol also serve a variety of small dishes, such as bacon-wrapped dates and flatbreads.

It’s part of Starbucks’ push to boost sales after the morning rush hour. It is a common concept in the restaurant industry — figuring out ways to maximize sales throughout the day, since stores have to pay for rent and labor anyway.

US fast-food restaurant Taco Bell, for instance, recently started highlighting snacks in its ads to drive sales during the slower late afternoon hours. And the fruit shakes and other drinks at McDonald’s are seen as a way to attract people throughout the day.

As for Starbucks, the chain recently introduced new sandwiches and salads to boost sales in the afternoon. It is also branching out into other areas as it faces more competition in the coffee market.

The company recently purchased a chain of tea shops called Teavana. CEO Howard Schultz has said he wants to make tea as popular in the US as he has helped make coffee.

There are about 11,000 Starbucks stores in the US and about 285 in Taiwan.

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