Barnes & Noble To Start Selling Booze At Select Locations

By McCarton Ackerman 06/27/16

The national bookstore chain joins the ranks of other unlikely alcohol-selling retail businesses like Starbucks, Burger King, and Chuck E. Cheese.

Barnes & Noble To Start Selling Booze At Select Locations

Barnes & Noble is launching plans for a comeback, and the bookstore chain is turning to alcohol, in part, to help achieve that goal.

Bloomberg reported that the chain has announced plans to open four new concept stores that have full-course eateries attached to them, all of which will serve beer and wine and operate at twice the size of its existing cafes. The concept stores will open in Loudoun, Virginia; Folsom, California; Eastchester, New York; and Edina, Minnesota. The first store will open in October in Eastchester.

Barnes & Noble CEO Ron Boire said in a statement that the eateries will “focus on an enhanced restaurant experience.” The company is desperately looking for ways to increase sales after posting losses of $98.6 million last year, and to compete with Amazon.

Other chain establishments have also started selling booze as a way to drum up business. Parents in New York City protested in March after a Brooklyn-based Chuck E. Cheese announced plans to start selling beer and wine, expressing concern that it could lead to safety issues in an area of the borough already familiar with violence. The owners of the establishment said they plan to increase security and staff in response.

Company spokesperson Alexis Linn said at the time that 75 to 80% of Chuck E. Cheese locations nationwide now serve alcohol, but impose a two-drink limit and only serve drinks by the glass. 

“With a largely millennial parent population, we’re seeing more demand for beer and wine,” said Linn via email to DNAinfo. “This generation really wants to ‘have their cake and eat it too,’ and moms & dads are looking for places that will please the whole family—not just the kids.”

However, several instances of adults fist-fighting at Chuck E. Cheese locations nationwide that serve alcohol have made headlines. The company tried to downplay this in 2013 by telling ABC News it spent $15 million on preventing similar incidents through “reduced showroom seating and party parameters.” It also stressed that these fights were isolated episodes and “over 99.99% of approximately 65,000,000 annual guest visits at Chuck E. Cheese’s go without incident.”

Starbucks, Taco Bell and Burger King have also recently unveiled a limited number of establishments that serve beer and wine.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.