Starbucks Wants to Get You Drunk

A blog about business and economics.
March 20 2014 1:44 PM

Starbucks Wants to Get You Drunk

141287474
Meet Jimmy, your new bartender.

Photo by Stuart Wilson/Getty Images

So pretty soon you’re going to be able to get tipsy at Starbucks, no flask necessary. The coffee chain announced that it will begin serving beer and wine along with upscale bites like bacon-wrapped dates during the evening at thousands of locations, according to Bloomberg. The chain currently sells booze at 40 stores. It expects the rollout to take several years.

“We’ve tested it long enough in enough markets—this is a program that works,” Chief Operating Officer Troy Alstead told the wire service.* “As we bring the evening program to stores, there’s a meaningful increase in sales during that time of the day.”

Advertisement

For a while now, Starbucks has been moving away from its identity as coffee purveyor toward becoming an all-purpose stop for stuff upper-middle-class people like. Think white-collar McDonald’s. They’ve branched out into tea (now with an Oprah-endorsed chai blend), bought a bakery for $100 million, and of course sell sandwiches, among other snacks.

In the end, though, this move seems to be mostly about luring customers at night. In 2010, when Starbucks first began experimenting with alcohol sales at a Seattle location, USA Today reported that the company’s coffee shops made more than 70 percent of their sales before 2 p.m. Even if a store closes around 5, that’s lots and lots of dead time for real estate. Starbucks makes its money selling one addictive beverage. If it’s going to fill those hours, it might as well branch out to another.

*Correction, March 20, 2014: This post originally misspelled the last name of Starbucks COO Troy Alstead.

Jordan Weissmann is Slate's senior business and economics correspondent.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The U.S. Is So, So Far Behind Europe on Clean Energy

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

Even if You Don’t Like Batman, You Might Like Gotham

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

John Oliver Debunks the Miss America Pageant’s Claim That It Gives Out $45 Million in Scholarships

Trending News Channel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Over There
Sept. 22 2014 1:29 PM “That’s Called Jim Crow” Philip Gourevitch on America’s hypocritical interventions in Africa.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 1:37 PM Subprime Loans Are Back! And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.
  Life
Outward
Sept. 22 2014 2:55 PM Nuptial Expert Sarkozy Worries About Gay Marriage and the Family
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 12:29 PM Escaping the Extreme Christian Fundamentalism of "Quiverfull"
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 3:16 PM Watch the Best Part of Beyoncé and Jay Z’s On the Run Tour
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 12:14 PM Family Court Rules That You Can Serve Someone With Legal Papers Over Facebook
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 22 2014 12:15 PM The Changing Face of Climate Change Will the leaders of the People’s Climate March now lead the movement?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.