Coffee Chain Announces Plans to Sell Alcohol at Night in Chicago as Potential Prelude to National Rollout
By Kevin Wilkerson, PubClub.com Nightlife Blogger
Normally, I would hold up a glass and give a big “cheers” to any business that decides to sell beer and wine in addition to its standard offerings.
More places to drink and socialize? I’m all for it, of course.
Except when that business is Starbuck’s.
That’s the grand plan of this mega-chain, to serve beer and wine to bring in more people in the evenings. It’s been testing this in Seattle and Portland the past couple of years and is taking the concept to five to seven locations in Chicago next year.
It’s just another example of how it’s really in business to run out other local businesses. What’s next – being a restaurant, too? Oh, it already serves cured meats, plus almonds and nuts.
My beef with Starbuck’s started years ago when it drove out my favorite beach store in Manhattan Beach, CA. Just Beachin’ had been on the corner of Highland and Manhattan Beach Blvd., for years, run by a nice family. It had everything you needed for the beach – a friend bolted there to purchase a USC beach umbrella the second it was put in the window – plus the coolest t-shirts. All prices were reasonable and every purchase supported the local family that ran the place.
Then, one day, Starbucks approached the property’s landlord. The location is one of the most desirable in the city and Starbuck’s wanted it. Badly.
According to the Just Beachin’ owners, here’s basically what transpired:
Starbucks to property owner: “We want this spot. We’ll double the rent.”
Property owner: “Well no, the place has been a part of the family for years.”
Starbucks: “We’ll triple the rent.”
Property owner: “I don’t know. That would not be fair to the existing business.”
Starbucks: “We’ll quadruple the rent.”
Owner (to Just Beachin’ owners): “You are out when your lease is up.”
Starbuck’s is an Evil Empire, coffee’s version ofTicketmaster.
Now Starbucks wants to sell alcohol? This could take business away from small neighborhood bars that have been in place for decades. With so many Starbucks locations in cities, the real impact could be convenience; instead of going for a beer or glass of wine several blocks away, people may just meet at a Starbucks within steps of where they are at the time.
Of course, the plan faces hurdles. It must get a beer and wine license and in some neighborhoods that won’t be easy. It will face a fight from citizens going to City Council meetings.
People can also decide that the only thing they want to drink at Starbuck’s at coffee. That would be the best move and that’s something to which I would definitely say “cheers.”