Starbucks Brings Beer and Wine to Chicago

By Jim Cohen | December 6, 2011 | 0 Comments |
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Coffee and beer: a match made in heaven, one to counteract the other, or simply beverages at separate ends of a day? Remember when we told you that Starbucks had opened a store in Seattle, WA that served beer and wine?  Well, the model appears to have proved successful. Starbucks is planning on opening 7 new stores in the Chicago area that serve beer and wine by the end of 2012.

Starbucks has been testing concept stores across the country to determine how to boost revenue. Besides beer and wine, the coffee giant has also tried to expand its selection to small plate options like cured meats. Additionally, to retain customers and the original atmosphere that spawned the store to success, Starbucks has also toyed with bringing in poets and local artists to give a warm vibe to neighborhood stores.

 "We're really trying to expand the evening daypart," said Starbucks spokesman Alan Hilowitz. "Customers have told us they want to be able to come in and have coffee, or a glass of wine."

Apparently Alan doesn’t know our readers. I assume that they’ll enjoy a beer just the same as a cup of coffee. As an example of Starbuck’s success, in the six stores in the Portland / Seattle area that serve alcohol, sales have increased by double digits after 4 PM. That speaks volumes for Starbucks, which earns more than 70% of its revenue before 2 PM every day.

Chicago proves to be an easy choice for the expansion. After all, Chicago was the second location that Starbucks expanded to after its original home in Seattle. Also, we know that Chicago has a pretty strong beer culture with the likes of Goose Island and Half Acre, among others.

The beer expansion potentially expands the target customer for Starbucks. For those who do not enjoy drinking coffee and tea, but enjoy the occasional beer or glass of wine – they can now walk into their local Starbucks. This also means potential sales for other items sold by Starbucks (food, apparel, etc.).

The new stores are also a win for the local economy. Each new store employs ~30-50 construction workers and new stores represent about 15 jobs (per store). Overall, Starbucks employs about 5,000 people in the Chicago area.

For those interested, stay tuned. Beer and wine will be served after 2 PM and it’s still TBD on what will be on the menu. Either way, Starbucks just got a bit cooler in the Chicago region…

Your Choice. Your Beer. Drink Up.
- Beer Universe

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