Starbucks Extends Beer, Wine to ATL, So. Cal.

Responding to customer feedback for more options to relax in its stores in the evenings, Starbucks Coffee Company today announced plans to bring wine, beer, and premium food offerings to a handful of locations in Atlanta and Southern California by the end of this year.

These stores, along with several others recently announced for the Chicago area, will be the first extensions of the evening day-part concept outside of the Pacific Northwest.

SBUX Blend Heats Up Competition

Company’s lighter roast will help it compete against Dunkin’ in retail.

After 40 years of staking its reputation on dark and medium coffee roasts, Starbucks began offering a light roast on January 10.

The Seattle-based coffee giant launched its new Blonde roast across the country in what some believe is a response to the growth of coffee competitors like McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts.

Fame, Fortune & Fries at McDonald's

Late last year, McDonald’s announced that it would launch in 645 California stores its own TV channel that broadcasts news, sports, and local-interest stories. The move resonated loudly across the industry, signaling that food alone might not be the future of quick-serve dining rooms.

Rather, customized digital and television content may be the new best way to get customers to hang around the dining room for longer than the time it takes to scarf down a burger and fries.

Restaurants Respond to Healthy New Year’s Resolutions

As the New Year approaches, many Americans will make resolutions, often involving diets and healthy eating. Technomic has found that an increasing number of restaurants are able to meet these consumers' needs by creating dishes that are low in fat, calories, and sugar, and by proudly describing these healthful properties.

In fact, use of the word "healthy" within menu descriptions has increased by 86 percent over the past year.

Starbucks Opens 5 Stores in China

Riding on the momentum from the opening of its 500th store in Mainland China in October, Starbucks Coffee Company entered another five new Chinese cities: Langfang, Zhengzhou, Harbin, Xiangtan, and Zhoushan.

In the past year, Starbucks has successfully entered 13 new cities in Mainland China and the stores in these communities have been popular and well-accepted by local customers.

Starbucks Mobile Transactions Exceed 26 Million

Nearly a year ago, Starbucks Coffee Company rolled out the nation's largest mobile payment program with the goal of offering a truly innovative mobile experience for customers worldwide.

U.S. customers were introduced to a smartphone application with a Starbucks Card stored within the app, providing the most convenient and fastest way to pay for Starbucks purchases.

What to Do with Google+

Google+ Pages let brands on the new social network, but many are still figuring out how to make it work for them.

Google announced the launch of its Google+ Pages earlier this month as an opportunity for brands to get involved with the search giant’s new social network. 

And while a recent study shows that a majority of the world’s top 100 brands have already launched a Google+ Page, many are still trying to get their Pages off the ground.

The recent study by BrightEdge, an Internet consulting firm, shows that 61 percent of the world’s top 100 brands, including McDonald’s and Starbucks, created a Google+ Page within the first week of the technology launching on November 7. 

Starbucks Opens 500th Store in Latin America

Since we opened our first store in Puerto Rico nine years ago, we have seen tremendous growth opportunities in Latin America – even some of our biggest markets are just getting started,” says Cliff Burrows, president, Americas, Starbucks Coffee Company.

Top 3 Trends from Biggest Q3 Calls

Quick-serve companies wrapped up their quarter earnings calls and investor meetings earlier this month, paving the way for the final fiscal term of 2011 (or, in Starbucks’ case, the beginning of fiscal 2012).

Here are a few things to learn about the industry from the results.

1. Premium menu items are the name of the game. Though customers have clamored for value-driven items throughout the recession, quick-serve companies are turning to higher-quality fare to appeal to frugal-fatigued consumers.