Starbucks Coffee Company will sell beer and wine in Atlanta, Southern California, Chicago and Pacific Northwest area stores later this year.
Customers expressed a desire to have more options for relaxing in an evening setting.
“We recognize the importance of continuously evolving with our customers’ interests, lifestyles and values in order to stay relevant over the long term,” a company spokesperson said.
“Our customers have told us that this is a natural extension to our coffee menu and our third place experience.”
The company targeted stores where it is relevant to create an atmosphere that lets customers relax with a friend, have a small bite to eat and a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.
“As our customers transition from work to home, many are looking for a warm and inviting place to unwind and connect with the people they care about,” Clarice Turner, senior vice president of Starbucks Coffee Company, said.
The option for alcoholic beverages along with a new premium food menu and the incorporation of flexible seating to accommodate individuals and larger parties will all serve to enhance the company’s evening-setting atmosphere.
Despite all the changes, top-notch coffee will remain the focus of the Starbucks’ experience.
“As we introduce new expressions of the Starbucks Experience, we’ve stayed true to our original vision and values, with the same commitment to premium quality coffee, passionate partners and a rich customer experience,” a company spokesperson said.
As expected, concerns have risen over the mainstream coffee company’s ability to ensure that only safe and legal consumption of alcohol will take place in their stores.
However, according to Starbucks’ media relations, all of the partners who work in those store locations serving wine and beer will be at least 21 years of age and will be trained to spot and assess customers who may have had too much to drink. Service will be refused to anyone who is visibly intoxicated.
“Partners are trained to call law enforcement as situations arise,” said Starbucks’ media relations. “We continuously review our procedures and we will continue to work closely with law enforcement to be sure our stores continue to provide a welcoming atmosphere for all customers.”
VSU’s on-campus Starbuck’s will not be serving beer or wine, according to Chris Valdas, student union manager.
“We did receive word on this; however, it is against our policy to sell alcohol on campus in a university setting,” he said.
Students have conflicting views on whether the change will have a positive or negative influence on their Starbucks experience.
Some students, like Jonathan Landrum, senior accounting major, don’t believe alcohol belongs in a coffee shop.
“It doesn’t really go with the whole coffee thing. You can go to the gas station and get beer,” Landrum said. “I don’t want to go to Starbucks and take out my laptop to do homework around drunk people.”
Other students, like Stuart Taylor, English graduate student, are more open to the idea and are excited to see Starbucks evolving and keeping up with the times.
“I think it’s definitely a good idea to try and see what happens,” he said. “There’s definitely a market for it and in this economy any business really needs to try new things to keep old customers coming and gain new ones.”