Last year, when Starbucks announced the coffee chain would start rolling out beer and wine service at hundreds of locations across the country as part of a new “Starbucks Evenings” program, a general sense of excitement seemed to ensue. “You mean I can get drunk at Starbucks now?!” you could practically hear a theoretical person exclaim. But as excited as that fake person may be, there was one problem: In reality, people didn’t seem interested in getting intoxicated at their local Starbucks. Last week, the company announced that less than a year into the expansion, Starbucks is pretty much axing Evenings entirely.
According to the Seattle Times, the late afternoon and evening service of beer, wine and small plates will end at all of the estimated 439 company-operated US locations that currently offer it tomorrow. For those bemoaning the death of boozy Starbucks experiences, a few glimmers of hope still exist: Some licensed stores in the US may opt to keep the program, as well as some international locations. However, the bigger initiative seems to be shifting alcohol sales specifically to forthcoming high-end Starbucks Roasteries and Reserve stores . “This will allow the majority of our locations to focus on our core business… while optimizing the evening for our premium customer,” a company spokesperson told the Times.
Though Starbucks didn’t specifically discuss what went wrong with the once highly-anticipated Evenings program that was first tested back in 2010, it’s easy to speculate on the potential shortcomings in trying to turn Starbucks into an option for getting tipsy. Of course, trying to have people mentally associate the world’s largest coffee chain with evening activities is a challenge in itself. But perhaps more importantly, though Starbucks are ubiquitous across the country, so are bars. So even after getting customers to acknowledge that Starbucks is serving alcoholic drinks, the chain still has to convince customers the coffee shop is a better option than the neighborhood bar they’ve been frequenting for years.
Still, Starbucks Evenings will go down as an intriguing concept that clearly never got its footing. I’m guessing the coffee chain would like to offer everyone who got a non-caffeine-induced buzz on at one of their stores a big thank you for giving the program a try.