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Starbucks adds beer, wine to select coffee shops

Elizabeth Kerns / Lantern photographer

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“I’d like a venti Merlot with a plate of focaccia flatbread please.”

If this sounds like a strange order, think again. Maybe, the next time you step into your favorite Starbucks coffee shop, this type of order might not be so uncommon.

As if another excuse is needed to spend more time at Starbucks, the coffee chain announced that it is changing its atmosphere to one that could rival that of one’s favorite local bar.

In response to customer requests for a more relaxed evening environment at their favorite coffee shop, Starbucks Coffee Company announced Jan. 23., the extension of the “evening day-part concept,” which will bring premium food, wine and beer to select store locations in Chicago, Atlanta and Southern California by the end of 2012.

Since first introducing this concept at Seattle area stores in Oct. 2010, the response has been extremely positive, according to a Starbucks press release.

Premium food such as hot flatbreads, custom tailored wine and beer selections (that will be selected to reflect local customer taste and preferences) will be offered beginning in the afternoon hours, according to the press release.

According to Time.com, beers will be sold for about $5 per glass while wine will cost about $7-9. These locations will also change seating options in order to accommodate larger parties such as community meetings or book clubs.

Margaret Binkley, assistant professor in the College of Education and Human Ecology, said she thinks the concept might work.

“If Woody’s is successful at it in the Union, then no reason for Starbucks to not try it on High Street (eventually),” Binkley said.

Max Hunter, a second-year in biology, said he believes additional choices will increase Starbucks’ revenue but it might cause a shift in customer type.

“That might definitely be a challenge for Starbucks,” Hunter said. “It would be interesting. I don’t know if anyone could really predict what would happen.”

Clarice Turner, senior vice president of Starbucks U.S. operations, said in a press release that their goal is to enhance and evolve the “Starbucks experience.”

She said the new atmosphere will allow customers to transition from work to home in the evenings, just as they can count on Starbucks to aid them in transitioning from home to work in the mornings.

While Turner said this concept will not be introduced to every Starbucks store in the nation (there are about 11,000), it begs the question as to how far this aspect of the company will expand and how it will affect the chain.

Emiliano Melgar-Burmudez, a second-year in biochemistry, said he thinks the change will increase the influence of an already-huge coffee shop chain.

“They have a pretty big market already. They’re trying to become like a monopoly in coffee,” Melgar said.

Other Ohio State students said while this might be attractive in a college setting, adding alcoholic beverages to a coffee shop might be unnecessary.

Jessica McGannon, a first-year in biology, spoke about the potential change coming to Columbus.

“They can’t turn Starbucks into a bar!” McGannon said. “I don’t think it’s appropriate at all. I think that would make (drinking) look appealing when you should be being productive, which is what people go to Starbucks for most of the time.”

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