Starbucks to serve wine and beer

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by TONYA MOSLEY / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on June 25, 2010 at 5:29 PM

SEATTLE - Some things just go great together. Coffee and tea. Beer and wine. But how about all four at the same time?

Jamie Quinlan says it's a money-making foursome that has turned the Richmond Beach Coffee Company in Shoreline around. Three years ago, the owners restocked the store's pastry display with some neighborhood favorites. It's an idea that quickly caught on, and shops like the 909 Coffee and Wine Bar in Burien are spring-boarding on the same idea with much success.

"Business has been better than ever," says co-owner Kelly Ricci. "I think people are into the smaller shops right now - the neighborhood shops."

Beginning in September, Starbucks will follow the lead of some of the smaller shops. The company will begin serving wine and beer at its Olive Way location on Capitol Hill in Seattle. It's a pilot program to see if Americans will take to the idea.

"We've already been testing it in Spain and Japan for the last year," says Starbucks spokesperson Stacey Krum.

The Olive Way location is expected to close in July for a two-month remodel that includes a sleek coffee and wine bar with narrow countertops to allow the baristas to interact with the customers. Quinlan says it's much like what smaller shops have been doing for years.

"If they want to sell it, they can sell it, but we still have better coffee than they do," laughs Quinlan.

Some people we spoke with have mixed feelings about it.

"It would be like if McDonalds started selling alcohol," says Capitol Hill resident Jacob Lopilato. "I think they're trying to put their hands into too many things, personally."

Corey Tims has a different view.

"I think whatever they can do to continue their progress I'm with it a hundred percent," said Tims.

If the pilot program is successful, Starbucks says it will expand the offerings to other locations. The company is also going a step further, relaxing its image by returning to its days as a place where people wanted to spend a lot of time by offering free, unlimited Wi-Fi in all company-run stores.

The new shop will be open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., serving wine and beer after 4 p.m.

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