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Arizona: Phoenix OKs Starbucks liquor licenses despite police protest

Arizona: Phoenix OKs Starbucks liquor licenses despite police protest


Source: The Republic | azcentral.com

Brenna Goth

December 17, 2015


Starbucks is closer to serving alcohol at four central Phoenix stores, under a recommendation for a liquor license that the city’s police department opposed.


The Phoenix City Council voted 8-1 Wednesday to approve the company’s applications for a license that would allow the sale of beer, wine and liquor. The vote provides a recommendation to the state liquor board, which has the final say.


Starbucks is looking to expand its “Evenings” concept throughout Arizona to offer craft beer, wine and small foodplates in addition to its current menu. Several cities, including Scottsdale and Tempe, already approved recommendations for liquor licenses for Starbucks.


Phoenix police said the coffee giant does not meet the requirements of the restaurant license it applied for. That license is less expensive and less restrictive than other types, according to the police recommendation.


But Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said Starbucks is a case that doesn’t fit neatly into the existing definitions.


“This is not an easy one,” he said.


The restaurant does not prepare food on site, relies heavily on takeout purchases and does not employ cooks or chefs, according to a police presentation.


Those opposed to the license questioned the precedent that recommending the license would set for other city businesses. Councilman Jim Waring, who voted against the licenses, said he was concerned Starbucks could start selling liquor, although its current intent is to offer wine and beer.


Other council members, however, said they viewed Starbucks as a restaurant, despite its food being prepared elsewhere.


A representative for Starbucks said the chain meets the requirements of the license and is committed to implementing responsible alcohol sales. The locations would have strict service policies and train store, regional and district managers.


The company also committed not to apply for licenses within 300 feet of a church or school, which is not required for a restaurant license.