Parkites will be able to get a buzz from their Starbucks barista
Starbucks patrons in Park City thirsty for a hot cappuccino will soon be able to complement it with a cold brew, too.
On Tuesday, the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (DABC) granted the coffee giant a master limited-service restaurant license, authorizing Starbucks to serve wine and beer in five of its Utah stores, including the Park City location at 1700 Park Ave. The other locations are in Salt Lake City, Holladay, Farmington and Lehi.
The master license, which was created by the Utah Legislature in 2013, allows a restaurant to serve alcohol at multiple locations (minimum of five) under one license. Starbucks’ master license is the first the DABC has issued.
According to an email response to The Park Record from Starbucks’ media relations department, the company will use the license to bring its "Starbucks Evenings" menu to the five Utah locations. That menu varies by location but typically features wine, craft beer and small plates of food, alongside the coffees and teas the company is known for. No details about the offerings at the Park City cafe were given.
Additionally, there was no timetable for when beer and wine will officially become available at the Park City location.
" We’re in the very early stages of bringing our Evenings menu to Utah," the Starbucks statement read. "It’s a long and thoughtful process and the permit filing is just one of many steps we take."
The Starbucks locations included in the master license will have to comply with the regulations all other establishments with limited-service restaurant licenses face, according to Vicki Ashby, a spokeswoman with the DABC. Those regulations include: at least 70 percent of a restaurant’s business must be from the sale of food; patrons ordering alcohol must also order food; restaurants must serve alcohol out of sight of patrons, behind a partition colloquially known as a Zion curtain.
Some patrons heading into the Park Avenue location Thursday afternoon questioned whether people would want to buy beer and wine at Starbucks. But several others, such as Shane Perry, thought offering the libations alongside coffee is a cool concept.
"I guess they’re trying to start something new," Perry said. "I haven’t heard of any coffee shops that have alcohol. So it’s just another way to attract customers. And there are Starbucks’ everywhere, and a lot of people like the Starbucks brand, so I think people will be more inclined to come here. It’s already part of people’s daily routines. Now it will become part of their nightly routines because they like Starbucks."
Ashby is unsure whether the Starbucks announcement will spur other businesses to follow suit. Master licenses have been available for restaurants — there is no such license for bars — since the Legislature created them in 2013, but Starbucks is the only company that has ever applied for one.
Ashby said the cost may be prohibitive for some businesses considering applying. A full-service master license costs $10,000, plus other fees, while a limited-service master license runs $5,000 plus additional fees, according to the DABC website, abc.utah.gov. An individual full-service restaurant license is priced at $2,200, and a limited-service license goes for $825.
"All we can do is speculate, Ashby said, "but it just would depend on whether another business is willing to invest the money in the master license."
Ashby added that one benefit of the master license is that it frees up licenses for other restaurants. state law, the number of liquor licenses available for restaurants is tied to the size of the state population — and once licenses are gone, they’re gone. On Tuesday, for instance, two businesses seeking limited-service licenses were turned away because there were none available.
The master’s license means Starbucks is taking up just one of the coveted licenses to service five locations, rather than using up five different licenses and making it more difficult for other restaurants to obtain one, Ashby said.
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Another ski season is in the books, and much to the relief of the restaurant industry, the outlook, like the weather, is looking sunny.