New Starbucks hopes to sell beer and wine
There are already nine Starbucks locations in Medford, making the global coffee kingpin almost as ubiquitous as local favorite Dutch Bros.
None, however, offer what the Seattle coffee company has in mind for its 10th location on East Barnett Road, across from Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center.
Starbucks has applied for a beer and wine license from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission for the 1,850-square-foot location in line to become the area's first Starbucks Evenings shop. There is no announced date for the opening, but it could be around Memorial Day.
"The location is near the hospital and a number of office buildings, so it is just as convenient for people to meet for a glass of wine after work as it would be to meet for a cup of coffee in the morning," said Bret Fox of Thomas Fox Properties, who arranged Starbucks' lease. Fox is also a partner in Barnett Stage LLC, whose president is Dan Thomas.
There are Starbucks shops or in-store kiosks on Crater Lake Highway, both east Medford Safeways, north and south Medford Fred Meyer locations, Rogue Valley Mall, Biddle Road, Lithia Motors headquarters building and Center Drive.
Fox said existing Starbucks stores might not have the configuration needed to gain OLCC approval.
"Some of the earlier stores may not have the appropriate stocking and storage areas for inventory," Fox said. "This store has been designed to accommodate that. Perhaps, some of the others could go through some remodeling to add those products."
There are 15 Starbucks Evenings stores in Northern Oregon, from St. Helens to West Linn, and one in Roseburg. The Garden Valley Road location in Roseburg operates from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The permit filing is just part of a lengthy process, a Starbucks' spokeswoman, who did not wish to be identified, said in an email.
"Just as each customer is unique, so are our stores and we consider a broad range of products and experiences for each neighborhood," she said. "We’re in the very early stages of considering Medford for the Evenings menu."
Starbucks doesn't franchise shops, although it licenses operations, such as is the case at the Lithia location.
Fox has worked with Starbucks in other Oregon and Washington locations, including one in Northern Oregon that now serves beer and wine.
"I present sites that I think are good locations for Starbucks and they give me a footprint with their specifications from their design team," he said. "You usually never know exactly what their plans are until they open; they know their customers pretty well."
Matt Roberts, an OLCC inspector in Medford, said the key element for Starbucks is its primary business is serving coffee.
"Alcohol can't be the predominant activity," Roberts said. "Basically, Starbucks is well known as a coffee shop, and incidentally serves beer and wine."
While the beer and wine approach will be new here for Starbucks, it won't be the first time someone's tried it in the Rogue Valley.
Good Bean on North Phoenix Road dropped its beer and wine service earlier this year. Owner Mike Kell said the demand wasn't significant enough.
"There just wasn't a lot of traffic in the evenings," Kell said. "We have RoxyAnn Winery right across the street, so it didn't make a lot of sense."