Starbucks plans to sell alcohol at night

CHICAGO — Starbucks is going big on booze.

Starbucks will expand its evening alcohol and light bites menu, which includes bacon-wrapped dates and Malbec wine, to thousands of stores, Chief Operating Officer Troy Alstead said. The rollout, which can help boost sales, will take several years, he said.

“We’ve tested it long enough in enough markets. This is a program that works,” he said. “As we bring the evening program to stores, there’s a meaningful increase in sales during that time of the day.”

Starbucks has been focused on selling more non-coffee items, such as alcohol, juice, Teavana tea and food, to stoke U.S. growth. The company also is expanding and improving its rewards program and mobile applications. Earlier this month, Starbucks said it would soon test a way for customers to order items ahead of time with their smartphones.

The company first sold alcohol in October 2010 at a Seattle store. In January 2012, Starbucks said it was expanding the test to as many as 25 locations in Chicago, Atlanta and Southern California. In Chicago, the after-4 p.m. menu includes fare such as truffle macaroni and cheese, chicken skewers, Chardonnay and chocolate fondue.

The evening food and drinks, which are in about 40 stores now, won’t work in all Starbucks cafes, Alstead said. He said they’ve seen success in some urban areas, near other restaurants and theaters, where people are out at night.

Last month, Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz handed over the company’s day-to-day operations to Alstead, so Schultz could focus more on digital, mobile, loyalty and electronic- commerce initiatives. The company said yesterday in a statement that its mobile-payment application has been gaining traction.

Mobile payment now accounts for 14 percent of in-store transactions in the U.S., up from a 10 percent rate disclosed in July. Starbucks also said it will open at least 20 additional Teavana stores in the current fiscal year.

“Mobile is very important,” said Peter Saleh, a New York-based analyst at Telsey Advisory Group. “The companies that are taking share are the companies that have some mobile, digital platform — Papa John’s, Domino’s, Starbucks, Dunkin’.”

Starbucks’s loyalty program entices diners by offering free beverages, food and refills in return for points they’ve accumulated from purchases. Customers can pay with mobile phones or Starbucks cards that are linked to their account.

As part of its effort to sell more tea, the company will begin offering Oprah Winfrey-branded chai tea on April 29 at stores in the U.S. and Canada, Schultz said at the company’s annual meeting Wednesday. Winfrey, the television personality and entrepreneur, tasted different tea varieties and helped Starbucks create the blend, which includes black and rooibos teas.

“This felt like something that I really loved, that I really cared about,” Winfrey told Schultz at the meeting. Starbucks will donate money from the tea’s sales to charities that support youth education.

Starbucks bought Teavana Holdings last year in a transaction valued at about $626 million. It has since been expanding the brand and plans to open tea bars in Chicago and Los Angeles this fiscal year.

Starbucks has more than 20,100 locations worldwide, including about 11,500 in the U.S.

More in Herald Business Journal

Amazon lists 20 finalists for HQ2, and no, we aren’t on it

Los Angeles was the only West Coast city listed. They seem to like the nation’s capital.

Exotic animals find compassionate care in Bothell (video)

At the Center for Bird and Exotic Animal Medicine, vets treat snakes, hedgehogs and even kangaroos.

Don’t take economic forecasts to the bank — or the casino

Air travel delays could spur a rebirth of passenger rail service.

Emirates orders 20 more Airbus A380 jumbos, saving program

The Dubai carrier also has options to buy 16 more. The program seems safe until 2029.

How do you retrieve an errant Boeing 737 from a muddy slope?

Turkish authorities used cranes to lift a plane that skidded off a runway.

Amanda Strong (left) tries on an Angel of the Winds Arena hat as she and Courtney Brown hand out gift bags after the renaming ceremony Dec. 13 in Everett. The new name replaces the Xfinity name. (Andy Bronson / Her file)
Angel of the Winds to break ground on $60M casino expansion

“We think we’re on the cusp of becoming a major resort.”

House passes bill aimed at lowering gender wage gap

The bill would hinder employers from retaliating against female workers who ask about others’ pay.

Planemaker joins forces with auto-industry supplier Adient

The new venture poses a threat to Zodiac Aerospace and Rockwell Collins

In this Dec. 20, 2017, photo, a clerk reaches to a shelf to pick an item for a customer order at the Amazon Prime warehouse, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
Amazon’s potential HQ2 sites leaves many cities disappointed

Associated Press Amazon’s move to whittle its list for a second headquarters… Continue reading

Most Read