Starbucks seeks waiver from city to sell beer and wine

In the future, baristas may also become bartenders in the San Marco Starbucks location, if the coffee café has its way. However, not all residents relish the idea that the popular coffee meister, famous for its lattes and scones, might begin serving alcoholic beverages in the late afternoon.

In mid-December, Coffee House Holdings, Inc., a subsidiary of the Seattle-based coffee company, submitted to the Jacksonville Planning Commission a waiver of minimum distance requirements for liquor license application in order implement it new “Evenings” menu, which includes the sale of beer and wine in its store located at 1980 San Marco Blvd.

The Planning Commission will discuss the application during a public hearing Thursday, Feb. 4 at 1 p.m. in the Lynwood Roberts Room at City Hall.

As of August, at least 70 Starbucks locations nationwide were offering an “Evenings” menu where they serve beer, wine and bistro-style appetizers daily 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Within the application, Dale J. Perrott, a senior vice president of Coffee House Holdings, Inc. signed an affidavit declaring “the sale of beer and wine under the Evenings program is incidental to food and non-alcoholic beverage sales.”

In its application for the waiver, Coffee House Holding’s agent Brian Plewinski of E-Z Permits, Inc. requested that the city reduce the minimum distance between a liquor license location and church or school as required by law for Starbuck’s to obtain a liquor license from 500 feet to 308 feet.

“Starbucks is not directly visible from Southside Baptist Church. There is a Bank of America and a tree-lined landscaped Balis Park Square in between. Per Google Earth, walking distance is actually 673 feet,” Plewinski wrote in the application.

“The character of the area involves a pedestrian-friendly district with multiple existing wine and food establishments, and specified that two nearby restaurants, Taverna at 1986 San Marco Blvd. and The Grotto at 2012 San Marco Blvd., are “in the immediate vicinity” and hold “existing liquor licenses in locations of a similar nature,” he said in the application.

When asked whether the San Marco Square location was a future candidate for the new “Evenings” menu, Gaby, a spokesperson for the Starbuck’s corporate office offered this reply:

“Thanks so much for reaching out! Just as each customer is unique, so are our stores, and we consider a broad range of products and experiences for each neighborhood. And, as you’ve probably seen, we’re in the very early stages of considering Jacksonville for the Evenings menu. It’s a long and thoughtful process, and the permit filing is just one of many steps we take. While we don’t have additional details to share at this time, feel free to check back in.”

 However, San Marco Starbucks store manager Lily Corcoran said a comprehensive store renovation is slated for her location sometime between April and June, but added that, prior to being asked by The Resident, she had no knowledge of any plan for her location to offer alcoholic beverages in the future.

“It’s the first I’ve heard. They’ve not shared anything with me,” said Corcoran, noting she has worked for Starbucks for 10 years and has managed the San Marco location for two years.

San Marco Preservation Society President Andrew Dickson said some members of SMPS have voiced concerns about the change, and the society met Jan. 28 to discuss whether it intends to oppose the deviation. Their decision had not been determined by press time.

“At this point Starbucks is one of the few places on the Square that does not serve alcohol, and many folks would like to keep it that way,” Dickson wrote in an email.

“Starbucks wants to start selling alcohol at four [o’clock] in the afternoon, which is when the rush from local high schools takes place. It operates till 10 or 11 p.m., and will serve beer and wine up to closing. On weekends, Starbucks is one of the few alcohol-free places that teenagers can hang out,” Dickson said.

By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News
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