Critics Say Head Off Fast Booze at Fast-Food Joints

Friday, 01 Jul 2011 01:42 PM

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If it takes two hands to handle a Whopper, how does a patron juggle a Whopper and a beer? That’s a question critics might ask as they challenge the wisdom of fast-food outlets starting to serve up fast booze, too.

It arises with an emerging fad that could leave fast-food vendors asking “Would you like a beer with that?” instead of the ubiquitous “Want fries with that?”

USA Today
  notes the trend in the plans of two Sonic restaurants in South Florida to sell beer and wine, in addition to Burger King’s recent opening of “Whopper Bars” in Miami, Las Vegas, and Kansas City that sell beer, as well as Starbucks’s serving local beer and wine in a few Seattle outlets.

The fast-food push toward serving up alcohol is an effort to compete with casual dining in a tough economy, Ron Paul, president at Technomic, a restaurant consulting firm, told USA Today. "For consumers, it's basically about having it your way — even if it's having a beer with your burger."

The movement is generating criticism, USA Today reports: "Fast food plus fast alcohol equals fast drunks," warns Michele Simon, research and policy director at the Marin Institute, an alcohol industry watchdog group.

Similarly, serving beer and wine at fast-food outlets send the wrong message to youngsters, Christopher Muller, dean at Boston University's School of Hospitality Administration, tells USA Today. "You don't want someone downing a quick beer, then getting into their cars and driving off. It's a delicate balance of risk and reward."

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