After experimenting with alcohol sales at six West Coast stores, the world’s largest coffee-shop chain said yesterday that it will sell beer and wine in as many as 25 locations by the end of the year. Starbucks, which has 10,700 U.S. cafes, will also sell fruit-and-cheese plates and focaccia with olive oil.
The strategy is part of a broader experiment to find ways to lure Starbucks customers and even non-coffee drinkers into stores during slow periods of the day, especially afternoons and evenings. The trick will be doing it without alienating core customers, said Bill Chidley, a Centerville, Ohio-based senior vice president at Interbrand, a brand consulting firm.
“It makes sense if you think of the way that McDonald’s grew its business by going into breakfast” and specialty coffees, Chidley said in an interview. Still, selling alcohol may turn off some families with children, he said.