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Kiss of Death for La Boulange

SFGate is reporting that Starbucks has purchased Bay Breads/La Boulange, with the intention of (1)integrating La Boulange pastries and products into the Starbucks line, and (2) eventually taking La Boulange national in some way.

From my experience, Starbucks is a brand killer. They've previously acquired businesses with the stated intention of using the acquisition to broaden their food offerings, but usually end up closing the business, sometimes using the lease for yet another SB. I happen to like La Boulange as a good place to have coffee and a light breakfast when I come into the City; and don't really see how this will be a good outcome for them.

Time will tell, but I'm not encouraged.

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  1. That sucks, though I think they must honestly want the bakery to improve their offerings. There's no way the 19 retail cafes are worth $100 million.

    I wonder if that means Bay Bread will stop supplying Trader Joe's with the Pain Pascal?

      1. I hope the Rigolo Cafe is not part of the deal.

        3 Replies
          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            I worked for the company a while back and Panissimo is part of Bay Bread, or at least is was then. Panissimo was the original name of the company if I recall. I think Rigolo is something like a franchise, peripherally involved. Who knows what that means for them.

            1. re: srr

              Huh, you're right, Panissimo was the original name of Bay Bread. I suppose whether the sale has any effect on Rigolo depends on what percentage the Mathieuxs own.

          1. What a coincidence, I chanced upon La Boulange today for lunch (I'm visiting for a week from NYC). This was at the one close to Yerba Buena center. The greens in the chicken salad were nice and the strawberry rhubarb tart was good too.

            1. Wow, this is terrible! After many months absence, I returned to the Boulange at my farmer's market today. Its usually what I consider to be the best bread in the bay area, and thats saying a lot. Today I was sadly disappointed. The walnut boulet was dull as dishwater, the crossiant Safeway bakery quality. Has Starbucks already killed this place? How truly sad!!!!

              1 Reply
              1. re: maxinethecat

                I don't know that SB has taken over yet...maybe they're just practicing.

              2. it's interesting; because rigo was jsut talking about how awful starbucks croissants are and how h wants to improve them....

                1. Well, how sad but I guess I should have seen it coming. I used to go out of my way to go to the Pine St. bakery-- they had my favorite madeline and brioche, and in the last few years I've noticed the decline in quality. They offer a lot more things now, but sigh.

                  1. Inside Scoop reports on next Tuesday's Bay Area Starbucks rollout:


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      What's more a question is what will become of the Boulangerie stores?

                      The most notable changes so far seems to be the addition of house made sodas, and discontinuing use of Equator Coffee in exchange for some blends advertised as certified organic.

                    2. I've stopped going to La Boulangerie since two very forgettable visits to the in Mill Valley (Strawberry) one last Fall. The first, I had a chocolate croissant that was probably the worst croissant I've ever had in my life. I ate the chocolate off the bottom layer and threw away the rest. The second was a panini (can't remember which one now) that was a shadow of its former self; looked good but "where's the beef' as the old commercial said. That's enough for me to strike them off my list.