Starbucks trying to up its “class” with alcohol
Two years ago, Starbucks started expanding its business by including alcoholic beverages, such as wine and beer, on their menu. This was first tested out in Seattle Starbucks establishments. Now, by the end of 2012, more locations will be availing themselves to the customers of the Atlanta, Chicago, Southern California and the Pacific Northwest areas.
Starbucks has begun to include these drinks as a way for them to gain more afternoon and evening sales. In addition to putting beer and wine on their menus, they also plan to include cheese plates, hot flatbreads and “savory snacks,” according to a Reuters article. Fancy, huh? Now, there’s no need to have wine tasting parties at home! Just invite everyone down to good ol’ Starbucks for an elegant dining event.
Starbucks is not the first of its kind to add adult beverages to what they offer. Burger King’s Whopper Bars, Sonic and Shake Shack are all fast food restaurants that have added alcohol to their products. According to Reuters, these restaurants “are adding morning and late-night menus, extending food and drink options and lengthening operating hours in an effort to boost sales,” but what are they really gaining by this?
With bars and restaurants on virtually every busy street, how many people would really duck into Starbucks or one of the other mentioned fast food joints for a drink? This may be why Starbucks is not installing this new menu in all of its almost 11,000 locations. Additionally, serving alcoholic drinks requires a licensed and trained staff. This may make this addition more trouble than it is worth for certain locations.
Some people, like Ithaca College Spanish and philosophy double major, Metta Crouse, 21, think differently. He said that that if he were already in Starbucks, he would consider buying something if they offered his favorite drink. It would be more convenient than leaving and going somewhere else. However, he also said that Starbucks adding alcohol to their menu probably would not make much of a profit because ”there are so many other places you can go.”
These chains also bring up the problem of drinking and driving. The Sonic locations serving beer and wine stated that they would only be selling it to customers eating on their patio or inside, and that they would not be serving it to anyone in a car. Starbucks has a drive-thru: Will they follow Sonic’s standards? Hopefully they will, since it is illegal to drink and drive or drink while driving. But what about when these customers are done eating and drinking when they are in the restaurant? Fast food restaurants have people constantly going in and out of them. It would be hard to keep track of those who have had drinks and those who have not. Will there be taxi services offered for those who drank, or will there be a designated driver system? Will they just turn their heads after they serve their patrons? Will they cut off their customers if they have had enough or throw them out if they become too rowdy? These questions may not be a big concern—after all, who would get drunk at a Starbucks or Sonic? But will Starbucks have a plan if the situation presented itself?
Starbucks is known to be a quiet place where people can do work while drinking coffee and listening to some smooth jazz or soft rock music. People go there with this expectation. Why disappoint the loyal customers with this change? Who can work with drunks around? Starbucks is not a bar; it is a coffeehouse. We all learned growing up that being ourselves is better than being someone else. You know the whole “Why be you when I could be me?” thing. I think someone should teach Starbucks that lesson.
Kristen Tomkowid is a freshman journalism major. Email her at ktomow1[at]ithaca[dot]edu.