Chicago will be the next market to see Starbucks locations selling beer and wine and expanded food offerings, the company said Tuesday.
Alan Hilowitz, director of corporate communications for Starbucks Corp., said five to seven locations — both new and existing — are scheduled to open or be remodeled in Chicago before the end of 2012 with the beer-and-wine options and new design elements.
The addition of alcohol is something the coffeehouse giant has been testing for about two years in its hometown of Seattle and Portland, Ore.
Currently, six Starbucks outlets offer beer and wine as well as various small plate options like almonds, bread with olive oil dip and salumi plates designed to accompany such beverages.
The goal was to explore ways to build sales later in the day, Hilowitz said. So far, units testing the format have shown double-digit same-store-sales increases after 4 p.m.
In Chicago, the format will no longer be considered in test, although Hilowitz said the company will continue to refine both menu offerings and the design of such locations.
“This is definitely not something we’re bringing to all new stores across the country; it will depend on the neighborhood,” he said. “It has to be right for the specific store.”
Hilowitz said the goal is to offer customers another occasion to visit Starbucks later in the evening for something other than coffee and cake pops.
“We want it to be a transitional place between work and home where people can stop for coffee in the morning, but where friends can stop in later and finish their day with a beer or a glass of wine,” he said. “Customers are telling us that’s what they want.”