Local bakery La Boulange hit the jackpot when it was acquired by Starbucks in mid-2012, and the coffee conglomerate wasted no time in rolling out the company's treats to thousands of its outlets (and becoming one of the nation's largest freezer distributors in the process). Unfortunately, the new world order in baked goods didn't go over well, even leading one critic to describe La Boulange's pastries as "the most disgusting breakfast on earth." (Check out the ever-growing list of angry comments on this post for a taste of the backlash.) Considering La Boulange was acquired in the first place to address the perception that Starbucks' baked goods weren't all that tasty, this isn't an ideal state of affairs, which is why the company is now rolling back some of the new line.
As Bloomberg reports, Starbucks is reintroducing some of the most-requested missing items from its former menu this week, particularly its pound-cake slices (in banana, pumpkin, and iced lemon). They'll also be retooling La Boulange's recipes and making them more like those of the old guard, in an attempt to address repeated gripes that the new pastries are too small and too pricey.
As it turns out, what plays in San Francisco doesn't necessarily apply to the rest of the nation, which has embraced fancy coffee but not the patisserie trappings that go with it. "Feels too fancy, I just want a donut now and then," said one customer quoted in the Bloomberg article; another complained that his 82-year-old mother was missing her favorite items from the menu. Starbucks says that food sales have gone up about one percent this year with the new line—a positive development for the company, which has been going toe-to-toe with McDonald's in the breakfast market for years, but perhaps not the breakthrough they were hoping for when they made the $100 million La Boulange acquisition. Starbucks is also making a bid to become more of an evening player, adding beer, wine, and small plates at thousands of locations and aggressively expanding its Teavana stores.
· Starbucks Retools Pastry Menu After Customers Complain [Bloomberg]
· La Boulange at Starbucks Slammed by Critic [~ ESF ~]
· La Boulange Rolling Out to Starbucks Next Week [~ ESF ~]
· Starbucks Buys La Boulange in $100M Deal [~ ESF ~]