What do you get when you combine a coffee shop and a bar? Starbucks. A very different kind of Starbucks will be soon on tap, serving beer, wine, and hard liquor at most Southern California locations by the end of the year.
The change in the coffee-only focus is due to customer feedback for additional options to relax in Starbucks. At the stores that currently sell alcohol in Seattle and Portland, beer is $5 and glasses of wine range from $7 to $9.
Starbucks receives 70% of its business before 2 p.m. every day, and it needed a new way to increase the evening crowds and boost revenue.
“From a business perspective, it’s a really gutsy move. It could definitely backfire and cause Starbucks to regret this marketing decision,” senior business major Rheneley Ramos said.
Starbucks employee Nathan Bedson believes it will be beneficial to the company.
“I actually think it’s a great idea. Whether they serve alcohol throughout the day or turn Starbucks into a bar at midnight, it’s going to bring in a lot of new customers and give it more of a European kind of feel,” Bedson said.
At a certain point in a business’ lifetime, it needs to start coming up with other reasons for people to come in, and clearly Starbucks has found its niche. However, in attempting to broaden its horizons, Starbucks has successfully created controversy in regards to teenagers.
“For some kids, Starbucks is a safe haven from perhaps a chaotic home life or a screwed up, dysfunctional family. Serving alcohol will take that safety and peace away from them,” customer and eighth grade teacher Dean Byrne said. “Some teenagers are already abusing the amount of caffeine they consume in a day. Add the temptation of alcohol, and how easy it is to get a fake ID to purchase it, and you’ve got yourself a dangerous situation.”
Many customers, as well as VU students, consider this decision a big mistake.
“When I first found out about this change, I was shocked and mad. This is a total turnoff because now I will probably stop studying at Starbucks,” junior Elza Hofeld said.
Regular customer David Kramer is opposed to the idea because of how alcohol will change the coffee house atmosphere.
“I don’t like the idea at all. I can’t imagine walking in and ordering a gin & tonic or a scotch. Right now, Starbucks is a gathering place for sober people and I don’t think that needs to change,” Kramer said.
Junior Jessica Teagardin is anxious about how this will affect her personally.
“If Starbucks turns into a bar, I will definitely feel uneasy walking in there to get coffee at night. There are enough places for college-age girls to get hit on by drunken men – I don’t want my Starbucks to be one of them,” Teagardin said.
This new change seems like a risky move for Starbucks, but only time will tell how the new “latte to liquor” transition will be received. It’s a tall order, so is Starbucks up to the challenge or will this backfire?