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Originally published December 5, 2011 at 4:19 PM | Page modified December 6, 2011 at 6:48 AM

Starbucks introducing beer and wine concept to Chicago cafes next

Starbucks will add beer, wine and small plates like almonds and bread with olive oil dip at five to seven stores in Chicago next year.

Seattle Times business reporter

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After selling wine and beer in a handful of Northwest stores for the past couple years, Starbucks is taking the concept to Chicago.

It will add beer, wine and small plates like almonds and bread with olive oil dip at five to seven stores in Chicago next year.

The idea started at a Starbucks location on Capitol Hill in Seattle, which the chain remodeled and opened in 2009 as 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea.

The store has reverted to the Starbucks name, but wine and beer remain on the menu there and at Starbucks cafes at Broadway East and East Roy Street, in Madison Park near CEO Howard Schultz's house and in Issaquah. There's also a Starbucks selling beer and wine in Portland.

And Starbucks plans to eventually sell wine and beer at a cafe that will open in January in one of Amazon.com's new headquarters buildings in South Lake Union.

They start selling wine and beer at 2 p.m. and have posted double-digit sales growth after 4 p.m., said spokesman Alan Hilowitz.

"It's something our customers have really been responding to," he said. "They want to sit and relax, and maybe one person wants to have coffee and the other wants beer or wine. People also can go out after work without having to go to a bar, and people who are underage can go and have a cup of coffee instead."

The coffee chain will roll the concept out selectively, but does not plan to offer beer and wine in all its stores. "It's got to fit the neighborhood," Hilowitz said.

Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or mallison@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @AllisonSeattle.

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