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Starbucks in the Solana Beach Towne Center will soon begin serving beer, wine and an expanded small-plates menu from 4 to 10 p.m. daily. Photo by Bianca Kaplanek
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Solana Beach Starbucks getting into holiday spirits

SOLANA BEACH — Christmas cup controversy notwithstanding, holiday spirits are brewing at Starbucks after council members at the Nov. 18 meeting approved a permit that will allow alcohol sales at one Solana Beach location.

As part of the company’s Evenings Program the coffeehouse in the Solana Beach Towne Center west of Interstate 5 will sell beer and wine for onsite consumption only from 4 to 10 p.m.

It will also offer an expanded menu of small plates that include truffle macaroni and cheese, flatbreads, a cheese or salumi plate, truffle popcorn and chicken skewers.

The shopping center on Lomas Santa Fe Drive is located close to Santa Fe Christian, Skyline Elementary and Earl Warren Middle schools, as well as the preschool at Solana Beach Presbyterian Church.

Because it is considered a popular gathering place for students after school, the Sheriff’s Department recommended postponing alcohol sales until 5 p.m., a condition Starbucks representatives were willing to accept.

But council members approved the conditional use permit with a 4 p.m. start time.

“I’ve actually got no problem with the 4 p.m. start time,” Councilman Peter Zahn said. “Yes, there are schools in the area but … from what I’ve seen” the two Starbucks in our community “have behaved … responsibly.”

Architect Jim Forgey, representing Starbucks, said at some locations that offer the Evenings Program beer and wine sales begin at 2 p.m.

The Solana Beach Towne Center is home to one other restaurant that serves alcohol. Real Bar and Bistro offers a full cocktail menu during its operating hours from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. A BevMo! full-line beer, wine and liquor store is also located within the center.

According to the Starbucks website two other San Diego locations — in Del Mar Highlands and Poway — will be offering the Evenings Program.

“Starbucks is very excited about the opportunity to roll out the program in your area at this location,” Forgey said. “We are anxious to get started and work with the community so it works out fine for everyone.”

Minimal improvements will be made to the 2,400-square-foot Starbucks and its 800-square-foot outdoor patio to accommodate the new offerings, reducing the number of tables from 33 to 24 and chairs from 92 to 78.

Forgey said the Evenings Program is expected to begin before the end of the year.

Council will evaluate the permit in six months.

“It is definitely something we should keep an eye on and if it becomes (a problem) I suggest we make a change accordingly,” Zahn said.

“You got more than you asked for and we didn’t even ask you what the cups would be,” Mayor Lesa Heebner said after the unanimous vote.

Starbucks has been criticized recently after it revealed this year’s Christmas coffee cup. Traditionally the company served coffee during the holiday season in cups with winter-themed designs such as snowflakes, snowmen, ornaments and reindeer.

The 2015 version is red with only the Starbucks green and white logo, prompting some to accuse the coffeehouse of waging a war on Christmas and presidential candidate Donald Trump to suggest a boycott.