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Pascal Rigo Unveils 20th La Boulange, Talks Starbucks

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[Photos: Eva Frye]

Feast your eyes upon the newest addition to the La Boulange family, "La Boulange du Dome" opening Monday, June 25th on the 4th floor of the Westfield Center. This is the 20th store born under founder/chef Pascal Rigo, and it's probably the most modern, glamorous branch yet—all brightly lit pastry cases, black-and-white blown-up pastry images, and sleek white high chairs. On Thursday, a media preview teased berry- or hazelnut cream-stuffed pâte à choux, orb-shaped vanilla and chocolate covered hazelnut treats aptly called le dome, lobster rolls, Prather Ranch burgers, and Three Twins ice cream sundaes. The elephant in the room was, of course, Starbucks, and what the game-changing recent buyout really means for La Boulange. Rigo was on site to answer burning questions.

What's the first thing you're going to change at Starbucks? The croissants and chocolate croissants. They are terrible. Those need the most help.

How are you going to handle production on such a large scale? We have a production facility in South San Francisco, about 2 minutes north of the airport, and that supplies all of our 20 stores in the Bay Area. We are just going to have a lot more production facilities in a lot more areas.

Is all of the food going to be the same? No, different areas have different demands. For example, San Francisco has different demand and seasonal items than say, some town in the Southwest. In Florida, we could do a Florida orange morning bun. We are going to do savory items, too. A lot of small, on-the-go items because Starbucks has [so many] drive-thru locations. The Starbucks food packaging is going to be completely different with La Boulange branding. The new color is a secret. I can't tell you what the color is now, but I think you're going to like it. It's very exciting!"

Are you going to start serving Starbucks coffee at La Boulange? No, not right away. But what we love is that they can roast their own beans. They have the sources, the roasters. We could completely control the source and roast of our beans and that is very exciting. We don't get to control that ourselves right now. It would all still be organic. But for now, we have a good relationship with Equator and we are going to continue using them.

When will we start seeing La Boulange products in Starbucks around town? They should be in eight local Starbucks shelves as soon as August 15th. "After that, we'll slowly expand along the West Coast, then to the East Coast."

Then, naturally, they'll help Starbucks try to take over the world.

· All La Boulange Coverage [~ ESF ~]

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