“I'll take the number one, with fries and a...beer?” That's right, a new item that fast food chains are experimenting with, in a limited number of locations, is the selling of alcohol in some restaurants.
Two Sonic restaurants in South Florida, one in Miami and the other in Fort Lauderdale, will begin selling a wide variety of beer and wine beginning later this summer, USA Today reported on Friday. Seattle area Starbucks coffee shops and Burger King “Whopper Bars” in Miami, Las Vegas and Kansas City have also begun to sell alcohol to their customers somewhat recently. Burger King also has stores that sell alcohol in Singapore, Venezuela and Spain.
Ron Paul, the president of restaurant consulting firm Technomic, says that serving alcohol could help increase the amount of evening business for fast food chains, making it easier for them to compete with other casual dining establishments.
Adding an interesting twist to this issue is the fact that Sonic is a drive-thru food service style restaurant.
Drew Ritger, senior vice president of business analysis for Sonic restaurants, says that they won't be selling any booze to those who choose to eat in their cars. At the Miami location only those who eat on the restaurant's patio can purchase alcohol, while those in Fort Lauderdale must go inside to do so.
Michele Simon is the research and policy director at the Marin Institute, an alcohol industry watchdog group. She spoke with The Christian Post on Friday and gave a few reasons why mixing booze with fast-food could be a dangerous idea.
“My first thought was...how many more liquor licenses is that going to require in most neighborhoods that are already oversaturated,” she said. “The idea of fast food places having liquor licenses in neighborhoods that are already oversaturated with liquor licenses, that's frightening to me.”
She later pointed to a Marin Institute fact sheet called, “Alcohol Outlet Density and Public Health,” which indicates a number of different neighborhood problems that are associated with and seem to be worsened when more alcohol outlets are introduced to an area, including violent crimes and suicide rates for boys between the ages of 15 and 19.
She's also concerned about the impact that serving alcohol will have on children. “Kids are always pretty frequent customers of fast food places like Burger King...Obviously fast food chains are places that we normally associate kids being in.” She later added, “There's been this somewhat of a...eroded division between adult oriented places – restaurants, bars – and more family-friendly, kid-oriented places.”
The Sonic in Miami will sell a wide variety of beer, 25 kinds of bottled and 3 different drafts, in addition to ten different types of wine. Ritger hopes that serving alcohol will bring more evening business to his two South Florida restaurants.