Some fast-food restaurants are turning to booze to fatten their profit margins and expand their client base during a recession, goes a Times trend piece today.
First things first, though. Were you aware that there was such a thing as a “Whopper Bar?” It’s Burger King’s “more upscale complement to its fast-food locations. The Whopper Bars serve items like a Bourbon Whopper and a New York Pizza Burger, and customers choose additional toppings like pepperoni, onion rings or guacamole.” Apparently there are 10 of them worldwide, including one in Times Square. I had no idea! I should probably get out more/never leave my house again [delete to suit].
But I digress. Burger King wants to serve beer at its Times Square Whopper Bar, but hasn’t been able to obtain the necessary licenses.
As it happens, the difficulties of preparing a fast-food restaurant for booze sales are legion—a generally underage wait staff, cultural conditioning, etc.—making this a fairly nebulous trend piece, even by trend piece standards.
But many quiet cozy coffeeshop-cafe-type places do transform into bars at night, which makes sense, given the generally young or at least going-out-aged daytime crowd and sociable, artsy staff at such places. Outpost, in Clinton Hill, for instance, serves beer and has DJ nights. (And I kind of feel that morphing throughout the day from cafe to restaurant to bar to maybe even nightclub is the norm in most places I’ve been that aren’t America?) So Starbucks is testing it out at five stores in the Pacific Northwest:
Three-quarters of [Starbucks] store traffic in the United States occurs before 2 p.m. each day, said a spokesman, Corey duBrowa, and the alcohol is meant to attract a nighttime customer.
“Nighttime customer” is not where I thought they were going with that.