Is Starbucks trying to turn into a wine bar chain?

Well not quite but the coffee giant has announced it is going to expand its move into selling wine, beer and ‘premium’ food to Atlanta and Southern California after a quiet trial on its home turf of Seattle and Portland.

It is also planning to test the concept, which is sees as a way of bolstering its business after the morning coffee rush, in some outlets in Chicago and Spain.

Wine bars are just about the only sector of the food and drink business that has not so far been invaded by the big chains, with the UK’s rather lacklustre All Bar One, owned by brewer Mitchell & Butlers, one of the few examples.

“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,” says Clarice Turner, Starbucks’ senior vice president of US operations. They’re probably also dying for a drink.

Starbucks says it doesn’t plan to introduce booze into all its 11,000 US cafes but the move has roused the predictable ire of anti-booze campaigners who are also alarmed by Burger King’s decision to sell beer in some US restaurants.

Sarah Mart of California-based industry watchdog Alcohol Justice says: “The more (such) places that open, the more risk there is of alcohol-related harm.”

Starbucks and Burger King. What will they make of all this at McDonald’s?

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.