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CHICAGO -- Starbucks' new concept known as Starbucks Evenings, which offers beer and wine starting at 4 p.m., debuts today at a Schaumburg, Ill., location, the first outside the Pacific Northwest. Located in the Chicago suburb's Streets of Woodfield shopping center, the café will sell wine for $7 to $15 per glass and up to $50 per bottle.
Beer will also be available, along with a small plates menu that includes warm rosemary cashews, bacon-wrapped dates, flatbreads or chocolate fondue.
"This concept is trying to deliver the same atmosphere and the same service that everybody's grown to love and expect from Starbucks," said Rachel Antalek, director of new concept development at Starbucks Coffee Co. "We're constantly innovating and trying new things, and this is something our customers have asked us for that in a lot of ways hearkens back to European coffeehouse heritage."
Customers will place their orders at the counter like usual, added Antalek, but the location will offer limited table service to check if they want anything else after getting comfortable, according to the report. Starbucks will also stage live music and poetry readings in an effort to create a relaxing atmosphere where people can unwind.
"As soon as customers see it, they see all kinds of ways to use it," Antalek told the news outlet. The company plans to reach out on social media to make customers aware of the concept, as well as post signs and have employees encourage morning customers to come back later in the day, but will not rely heavily on advertising.
Seven Starbucks locations in the Pacific Northwest offer Starbucks Evenings and have seen double-digit same-store sales increases after 4 p.m., the company said. As many as six more Chicago-area locations will add it by the end of this year; two are currently in the permitting process. The company first experimented with adding alcohol to its menu in October 2010.
"Wine has a tendency to appeal more to women … and heavy users of specialty coffee," Bonnie Riggs, restaurant industry analyst at NPD Group, told the Tribune, adding that Starbucks Evenings could be successful in large markets and possibly airports.
Starbucks plans to extend the evening concept to Atlanta and southern California later this year. Some industry experts have criticized the company's latest moves, stating that it is moving too far from its core concept. The chain removed the word "coffee" from its corporate logo last year in order to emphasize its non-coffee plans.