- - Wednesday, December 5, 2012

COFFEE

NEW YORK — Another Starbucks may soon pop up around the corner, with the world’s biggest coffee company planning to add at least 1,500 cafes in the U.S. over the next five years.

The plan, which would boost the number of Starbucks cafes in the country by about 13 percent, was announced at the company’s investor day in New York on Wednesday. Taking into account Canada and South America, the company plans to add a total of 3,000 new cafes in its broader Americas region.

Worldwide, the company says it will have more than 20,000 cafes by 2014, up from its current count of about 18,000.

RESTAURANTS

Olive Garden owner delays worker changes

NEW YORK — The owner of Olive Garden and Red Lobster says it won’t bump any full-time workers down to part-time status in the near term, after its tests aimed at limiting health care costs resulted in a publicity backlash that took a bite out of sales.

At the same time, Darden Restaurants Inc. isn’t ruling out relying more heavily on part-timers over the long term.

The company, based in Orlando, Fla., is set to announce the update on its workforce plans Thursday. The move will come just two days after the company lowered its profit outlook for the year, citing failed promotions and negative publicity from its tests that used more part-time employees.

CALIFORNIA

Ports reopen after 8-day strike ends

LOS ANGELES — Work resumed Wednesday at the nation’s busiest port complex after a crippling strike was settled, ending an eight-day walk-off that affected thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in cargo.

Gates at the Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors reopened, and dockworkers were ready to resume loading and unloading ships that had been stuck for days, Los Angeles port spokesman Phillip Sanfield said.

SHIPPING

Mississippi River drop slower than expected

ST. LOUIS — A revised Mississippi River forecast offered a bit of a reprieve for shippers Wednesday, showing the water level isn’t dropping as quickly as feared. Still, at least two large barge companies already are reducing their loads because of concerns about the river’s depth.

Months of drought have left the Mississippi near historic low levels, a problem worsened last month when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reduced the outflow from an upper Missouri River dam, thus lessening the amount of water that drains into the Mississippi where the rivers converge near St. Louis.

The river at St. Louis on Wednesday was about 13 feet deep. The Coast Guard has said further restrictions on barge traffic — most notably in a 180-mile stretch between St. Louis and Cairo, Ill. — are likely if the river dips to around 9 feet, though the decision is based on observation of conditions and not the level on the gauge.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports