Starbucks To Add Alcohol, Food To More Units

Starbucks said Monday it will expand its offer of beer, wine and an expanded food menu to a handful of stores in Atlanta and Southern California before the end of 2012.

Five to seven locations in Chicago were already scheduled to offer alcohol and the expanded menu this year in a move to build evening daypart traffic.

Currently, Starbucks offers the options only at five locations in Seattle — the company's home base — and one in Portland.

The first to test the expanded menu was the Olive Way location in Seattle, which began offering the expanded food and beverage menu in October 2010.

In December, Starbucks officials said units testing the new format have shown double-digit same-store-sales increases after 4 p.m.

Starbucks said the expanded format will be available in four to six units in each market of Atlanta and Southern California. The beer and wine list will be selected to reflect local customer tastes and preferences, the company said.

Food offerings will include savory snacks and small plates, as well as hot flatbreads.

The restaurants will also incorporate more flexible seating to accommodate both individuals and small groups, as well as larger parties like community meetings or book clubs, the company said.

Clarice Turner, Starbucks' senior vice president, U.S. operations, said building an evening daypart is a natural progression for the coffeehouse chain.

So far the company is pleased with results and eager to test it in new markets, she said.

"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," Turner said in a statement. "At select stores where it is relevant for the neighborhood, we are focused on creating an atmosphere where our customers can relax with a friend, a small bite to eat and a cup of coffee or glass of wine."

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