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Starbucks partners with Oprah, plans alcohol on menu

By McClatchy News Services

LAST UPDATED: 4:21 p.m. HST, Mar 19, 2014

Starbucks Corp. will extend its post-4 p.m. Evenings menu, which includes alcohol, to thousands of stores nationwide.

The program is already available at more than 25 locations in Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, Portland and Atlanta, according to the company's website.

Examples of Evenings selections include Parmesan-crusted chicken skewers with honey-dijon sauce, chocolate fondue with a dried fruit medley and madeleine cookies, and beer and wine from Argentina, Italy and California.

The expansion, which was first reported by Bloomberg, is part of Starbucks' ongoing effort to branch out beyond the coffee through which it became famous.

In the span of three years, the Seattle company bought San Bernardino, Calif., juice business Evolution Fresh Inc. for $30 million; spent $100 million buying San Francisco Bay Area bakery brand La Boulange; and picked up Atlanta tea chain Teavana Holdings Inc. for $620 million.

On Wednesday, at Starbucks' annual meeting in Seattle, celebrity mogul Oprah Winfrey helped announce that she is teaming up with the coffee chain to develop Teavana Oprah Chai tea.

The cardamom, ginger, cinnamon and clove mixture will hit Starbucks and Teavana shelves in North America on April 29, just before Mother's Day.

Starbucks' Evenings offerings premiered in Seattle in 2010 before expanding to other cities in 2012. The chain has more than 20,100 locations around the world, 13,600 of them in the Americas.

This year, Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz passed off his day-to-day duties to Troy Alstead, who was promoted to chief operating officer from chief financial officer. Schultz said he would focus on next-generation retailing blending the company's bricks and mortar, e-commerce, digital, card and mobile businesses.

Starting this week, customers can start tipping their baristas through Starbucks' newly revamped iPhone app.

Starbucks shares rose $1.31, or 1.8 percent, to $75.91 on Wednesday.

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