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As Starbucks rolls out plan to sell beer and wine, some buzz is negative

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The move to post wine and beer on the daily menus alongside hot chocolate and milk “normalizes alcohol consumption” in what has been up until now a very family friendly, social setting, Mr. Scippa says. “We consider this a very damaging message to send to young people who will see this when they come in with their friends and parents,” he adds. 

Interviews with morning patrons at the corner Starbucks in Sherman Oaks, Calif., show mixed reactions, if slightly negative to the announcement that beer and wine might soon be served.

“If it turns into a bar atmosphere, we definitely won’t bring him anymore,” says Elisha Larson, sitting with her 18-month-old son and her husband Joel, a minister, who come as a threesome about once a month. “It will surprise me if it becomes that. People don’t think of Starbucks for wine and beer,” she says.

“I want to come here for quiet and to get away,” says Alexandra Gomez, an international exchange nanny from Bogota, Columbia. There, she says, the famous coffee shops are Juan Valdez, and they don’t serve beer or wine.

“My initial reaction to the announcement was negative, but I’m guessing it won’t change the nature of this place in the morning,” she says, reading a textbook with sunglasses. People don’t drink beer and wine in the morning. If it changes the atmosphere here, I won’t come.”

The after-school safety factor is of concern, says advice expert April Masini, who writes the “Ask April” online advice column.

“While kids used to hang out with laptops to do homework between the hours of 3 p.m. and closing time, there will now be adults drinking and getting buzzed or drunk at the next table,” she says via email. “People who get buzzed loosen their inhibitions and this isn't conducive to mingling with the middle school and high school crowd,” she says, adding that Starbucks that serve alcohol will no longer be as safe a place to send children after school.

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