Sunday, February 13, 2011

Starbucks to experiment with wine and beer

When we reported last summer that our biggest neighborhood coffee purveyor was soon to be renovated, we said patrons should expect no significant changes to the menu as a result of the revamp.  We noted that although Starbucks had recently been experimenting with evening wine and beer sales at one of its Capitol Hill locations, the company had no intention of extending the experiment to Madison Park.  We had that on pretty good authority.

Within 24 hours, however, Corporate Headquarters took note of our story, and we were asked to take our posting down.  Which we did.  Starbucks later requested that before we reposted the story we remove all mention of alcoholic beverages.  We suspected that we had not heard the last of the issue--and we were right.  Starbucks now confirms that wine and beer will be on the menu once the Madison Park store has been revamped.

Moreover, what was originally thought to be just a minor re-do of the existing space is actually going to be quite a transformation.  Starbucks spokesperson Stacey Krum admits that it's now a more ambitious project than first envisioned.  The new store will, in fact, be similar in design to Starbucks' Capitol Hill location on Olive Way--including "green elements," lots of wood, and new furniture and fixtures.

What happened?  According to Krum, the Corporation has learned some things at Olive Way and wants to expand the experiment begun there by trying it out in the very different environment of Madison Park.  She tells us that the wine-and-beer thing has gone over very well at Olive Way, and Starbucks is pleased with the way people have responded to the new options and to the completely revamped space.

The remodeling of the Madison Park store will take place over the next two months, with construction scheduled to begin as early as late February, according to Krum.  The store will be open during the remodeling, so patrons will get to watch the progress.  There is almost no structural work involved, says Krum, who adds that some of the construction will be done at night.  However, as it looks now, the Community Room will probably have to be closed during all or part of the construction period.

Starbucks has set up an easel in the store showing some design concepts and finishes, for those interested.  There will also be a formal presentation of the remodeling plans for the new store and a chance to ask questions of the Starbucks design team on Wednesday, February 16 at 5:30 pm.  New store manager Andrew Nix, who begins his assignment this week, will be present.  Those who plan to attend are requested to RSVP to


  1. Let me get this straight. You had done some research through a reliable source and found out that beer and wine were going to be offered. Since the neighborhood would find that newsworthy and you are the neighborhood news source (like it, or not), you reported it.

    Starbucks then asked you to pull your post and you did. Then they asked you to change details of your post before re-posting it? And then it turns out beer and wine are being served anyway? Surprise, surprise.

    Where did the concept of freedom of the press go, Bryan? Did they threaten to spit in your free "hush" coffee if you didn't do what they wanted you to do? You did at least get free coffee in exchange for your credibility, right?


  2. I'm totally psyched for a wine bar in Madison Park!

  3. I agree with the first post. You took it down? I just lost a lot of credit for one of my fav blogs. Starbucks shouldn't dictate your posts. Shame on SBUX for asking you to take it down, but more shame on you for folding.

  4. We were willing to take the original post down at the request of the then-Starbucks manager, who had given us the exclusive story on the remodel but did not know that the Corporation was re-thinking the whole project. We chose not to create a further complication for him with his employer by leaving the story on the blog, especially when it became clear that a big part of the story might be incorrect.

    We are not embarrassed by our decision to support to our story source, who was a good guy caught in the middle.

  5. I think that was a good decision, Bryan. It's not like we're dealing with the Pentagon Papers here . . . .

  6. True about the Pentagon Papers, but we are dealing with issues important to the neighborhood, about which Bryan claims to report. The new concept cafe has already been the source of controversy in other neighborhoods. They WILL take business away from already-struggling local, independent restaurants. They will bring more drivers, get them tipsy and send them back out through our neighborhood. Given this, and the resistance they met in their previous venture into adult beverage service in Madison Park, I see why they want to contol the press. Bryan didn't have to play along, but I guess it shows where Madison Park ranks on his list.

    I did go back and read the previous post and while I do not know at this point if it is the real original post, or the fake original post, it was VERY entertaining. Starbucks pats themselves on the back about not making an "obnoxious" splash into the neighborhood and about being "resoundingly accepted" when they first set up shop in the Park.

    I guess they considered it "un-splashy" to spend close to $1m on their new (at the time) "restaurant" concept, complete with fancy finishes, dim lighting and sit-down dinners. And, if being "resoundingly accepted" means falling flat on your face and having to throw your restaurant into the landfill and make yourself into a coffee shop, then I guess they were right about that part, too.

    Here's hoping history repeats itself.....without revisions this time.


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