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Starbucks plans more cafes with wine, beer

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, envisions driving a tea boom with the recent acquisition of Teavana.

Ted S. Warren /Associated Press

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, envisions driving a tea boom with the recent acquisition of Teavana.

NEW YORK — Starbucks Corp. plans to turn more of its cafes into destinations for beer and wine in the evening. The coffee company is looking to expand alcohol sales to ‘‘thousands of select stores’’ over several years, but it didn’t provide a timeline.

The chain first offered beer and wine in 2010, at one of its Seattle cafes — after 4 p.m. ‘‘Starbucks Evenings’’ are now available in 26 cafes, with a plan to reach 40 by year’s end. The cafes also serve small dishes priced from $3 to $5, such as bacon-wrapped dates and flatbreads.

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The regular coffee menu is also available during that time.

Expanding Starbucks Evenings is part of a push to boost sales. 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 fruit shakes at McDonald’s are seen as a way to attract people throughout the day.

As for Starbucks, it recently introduced new sandwiches and salads to boost sales in the afternoon.

And the company recently purchased a chain of tea shops called Teavana. Chief executive Howard Schultz has said he wants to make tea as popular in the United States as he has helped make coffee.

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