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Starbucks to roll out beer, wine to more cafes

NEW YORK — Starbucks plans to turn more of its cafes into a destination for beer and wine in the evenings.

The coffee company says it is looking to expand alcohol sales to "thousands of select stores" over the next several years, although it didn't provide details on an exact timeline.

The chain first offered beer and wine after 4 p.m. at one of its Seattle cafes in 2010. "Starbucks Evenings" is now available in 26 cafes, with plans to reach 40 by the end of the year. The cafes also serve a variety of small dishes ranging in price from $3 to $5, such as bacon-wrapped dates, truffle macaroni and cheese, and flatbreads.

The regular coffee menu is also available during that time.

The expansion of "Starbucks Evenings" is part of the company's push to boost sales after the morning rush hour when people are getting their caffeine fix. It's a common concept in the restaurant industry — figuring out ways to maximize sales throughout the day since stores have to pay for rent and labor anyway.

Taco Bell, for instance, recently started highlighting snacks in its ads to drive sales during the slower late afternoon hours. And the fruit shakes and other drinks at McDonald's are seen as a way to attract people throughout the day.

As for Starbucks Corp., the chain recently introduced new sandwiches and salads to boost sales in the afternoon. It's also branching out into other areas to as it faces more competition in the coffee market.

The company recently purchased a chain of tea shops called Teavana. CEO Howard Schultz has said he wants to make tea as popular in the U.S. as he's helped make coffee.

There are about 11,000 Starbucks stores in the U.S.

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