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January 24, 2022

Starbucks to serve beer and wine at some U.S. stores

Let’s brainstorm together: if there is one place on earth where people linger too long, where is it?


Indeed, there are few social meeting spots as cliché as the coffee chain, yet still it persists, Starbucks being the  place you want to be if your desire is to be seen in public typing on your laptop, studying for an exam or wearing a cashmere scarf with glasses absent prescription frames.

Business-wise, having people spend incredible stretches of time in your outlets is a big money maker for Starbucks, though in the U.S. the franchise has found a way to lure customers in for even longer.

According to an announcement by the chain this week, Starbucks says it will begin selling beer and wine at some of its locations south of the border.

*Bing: Worldwide, are there more Starbucks locations or Tim Hortons’?

As many as 18 total restaurants in Atlanta, Chicago and southern California will debut the new boozed-up menu, which will also feature “premium” foods, including small plates and flatbread sandwiches. The alcohol adds and food upgrades will be rolled out by the end of the year.

Wine and beer lists will differ by region sold. Neither will be available before the afternoon.

In fact, Starbucks has tried this before – in 2010, in Seattle, it served beer and wine at a concept store and now offers the booze at five locations in its headquarter city and another in Portland – but never has it aired plans to expand its menu outside its home base in the pacific northwest.

Of course, the move is simple for Starbucks: offer beer and wine in the hopes you can better target that lucrative nighttime pub/bar crowd, and, above all else, try to keep patrons inside your doors longer.

According to USA Today, the move is a shoe-in to not only attract higher-end customers, but also community groups and book clubs looking for a place to meet.

No word yet on if Starbucks will try its alcohol pilot project in Canada, though don’t hold your breath. Liquor laws in most provinces, we imagine, would make the move a nightmare – and likely a profit-sapping one – for the coffee superchain.

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...