Starbucks tests dinner market

Starbucks (NYSE: SBUX) and San Fransisco chain La Boulange Bakery are opening a quick-service restaurant in Los Angeles that will be open for dinner.

The restaurant will have the same name as the chain's La Boulange locations, but remain open three hours later until 10 p.m. The menu will include pastries in the morning, salads and sandwiches for lunch and items like croissant burgers and french fries for dinner. Cocktails, beer and wine will also be available.

The restaurant's opening follows behind Starbucks' expansion in March of its Evenings Menu at its cafes, which includes items like bacon-wrapped dates and truffle mac and cheese. The move is an effort to attract more consumers in the evening, a typically slow time of day for the coffee shops. Starbucks also upgraded its menu to include new lunch items and made-to-order Fizzio handcrafted carbonated beverages to 40 percent of its U.S. stores.

The $34 billion fast-casual industry has grown in recent years, with chains like Chipotle and Panera Bread (NASDAQ: PNRA) gaining large crowds at the dinnertime evening rush. Panera racks up 22 percent of its sales at dinner while Chipotle, with about 1,500 locations nationwide, reported its first-quarter earnings rose 8.5 percent.

Yum! (NYSE: YUM) has been testing upscale versions in the KFC and Taco Bell families, unveiling a new concept this summer called U.S. Taco Co. and Urban Tap Room. The company last summer opened a fast-casual spin on KFC called KFC Eleven in Louisville, Kentucky and revealed plans earlier this month to open a new fast-food operation in Texas called Super Chix which will focus on premium fried chicken sandwiches and french fries.

For more:
-See this Bloomberg article

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