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May 23, 2008 10:32 PM

What's the deal with Lulu Rae?

I hadn't been to Tango in Piedmont for a while, so when I went in today, I was surprised to see a 7-11-style off-to-the-side-of-the-counter display of high-end chocolates. I asked how much the Valhrona was (the black bar with the red stripe, 71%), thinking I might save a trip to Trader Joe's, but the high school employee wearing the chef's jacket didn't know. No biggie. So this woman - the new owner? - brusquely told the employee he had to scan it for the price and equally brusquely informed us the bar was $6.50. When my boyfriend had a "wha?!" reaction to the price (we buy this bar at Trader Joe's for $3), the owner got super defensive and derisively informed us that TJs buys at lower prices.

Duh.... Trader Joe's has better leverage in terms of getting good wholesale prices. But unless she's buying them at TJs and reselling them, there's no way her mark-up isn't ridiculous. I think the same bars are $4 at the Bowl, which isn't exactly a major chain store.

With such a crappy-looking store and no place to sit down and no information about chocolates (like Bittersweet has!), why on earth would anyone buy chocolate bars at Lulu/Tango in Piedmont? Even the expensive Piedmont grocery has a lot to offer to make up for the prices - good selection, friendly employees, small-town charm. I am so mystified by this, but searches here and on Yelp mostly just show love for Lulu. Am I just a curmudgeon?

Also, has Tango's gelato changed a whole lot lately?

Lush Gelato
4184 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA

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  1. I haven't been to Tango in awhile, so I can't vouch for the ice cream. But, if you're totally nuts about chocolate, you can get all kinds at Spun Sugar in Berkeley. They buy all the good brands in bulk, then break them up for resale. The prices are good, and the selection is fantastic. Also, they don't stock everything on their shelves, so if you want something special, they might have it in their warehouse.

    Keep me posted on Tango. We're moving back to the area next week, and I hope the ice cream is still good. (Cruddy ice cream selection up here in Seattle.)

    1. I'm confused. If you're talking about Tango Gelato on Piedmont, why does the title refer to Lulu Rae?

      Lulu Rae Confections
      6311 College Ave, Oakland, CA

      3 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        That's exactly it - I went into Tango Gelato on Piedmont, and there was a "Lulu Rae" sign hanging over the doorway, and the gelato had been moved over to make room for a [fairly unimpressive] chocolate display. The guy working there said they'd been bought by Lulu Rae 5 weeks ago (which seems strange - maybe I misheard him?). I want to know the answer to this mystery! :)

        1. re: eeblet

          Sounds like you answered your own question -- if they were bought fairly recently, they're still going through transition. The original Lulu Rae on College has a very good selection and I've always found the people there reasonably knowledgeable.

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            OK, maybe I'll check out the original.... It sounds like they have more to offer than just marked-up grocery store chocolate bars.

            My original question was trying to see if anyone else had been to Tango/Lulu on Piedmont recently, and I also wanted to confirm that Lulu indeed bought Tango, because both the employee and the owner weren't totally clear on that point.