Starbucks using Portland area as testing ground again

A subsidiary of the coffee giant applies for liquor licenses for trio of stores to see how well an expanded presence of their “Evening shops” is received.

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A subsidiary of Starbucks applied for liquor licenses for a trio of stores in the Portland area to see how well an expanded presence of their “Evening shops” is received.

Beer and wine will be offered after 4 p.m. at the shops, the Portland Tribune reports.

If the licenses are granted, it would double the number of regional Starbucks shops with beer and wine on evening menus. The coffee giant launched its Starbucks Evenings program last year at shops on Northwest Couch Street and Southwest 11th Avenue in Portland, and on Northwest Bethany Boulevard in Washington County. All three of those shops have OLCC licenses and offer beer, wine and special menus after 4 p.m., according to the Starbucks’ spokeswoman. The stores are among nearly three dozen across the country that serve beer and wine during the evenings.

Shops with the Starbucks Evenings program offer casual dining menus with dishes like bacon-wrapped dates with balsamic glaze, truffle mac & cheese, artichoke & goat cheese flatbread and grilled vegetable plate with lemon aioli sauce. There also are desserts with espresso and truffles.

“It’s just another option for our customers,” said the unnamed Portland Tribune source. “It’s a relaxed setting. You don’t have to get dressed up.”

The source says the move doesn’t “necessarily mean” Starbucks will be expanding their Evening locations, but that “it is possible.”

The shops that will be converted:

  • East Burnside and Northwest Lovejoy in Portland;
  • Southeast Sunnyside in Happy Valley;
  • East of Interstate 205 near the Clackamas Town Center.

Starbucks made headlines recently for its ill-fated attempt to get customers and baristas to talk about race relations in America while waiting for coffee.

The “Race Together” campaign, which began last week, was ended March 22, the New York Times reports.

The initiative, which began last week, was mocked with such vehemence on social media that the company’s senior vice president for global communications deleted his Twitter account because, as he wrote on Medium, he felt “personally attacked in a cascade of negativity.” Some critics said that Starbucks might look first to its own executive team, which they suggested was considerably less diverse than lower-paid staff. Others felt that a coffee company should not foist such discussions on customers.

“I’ll have a flat white,” read one cartoon, referring to an espresso drink the company has recently started serving. “No racism intended.”

While the “Race Together” movement is over, CEO Howard Schultz suggested in a letter reflecting on the initiative that the company would continue to engage customers on major social issues.