La Boulange: Proudly Brewing Starbucks?

Can you hear that? It's the sound of everyone in the Bay Area sighing about Starbucks buying La Boulange. As we learned yesterday, we're not the only ones with a big crush on this Bay Area French bakery.


You've probably heard the big news already. Starbucks is purchasing La Boulange for $100 million. In addition, they are hiring its founder, Pascal Rigo, to join their team. According to the Washington Post, "The Seattle-based coffee shop chain says baked goods from La Boulange will start replacing its current lineup early next year." It sounds like they'll be trying the products out in Starbucks retail stores in the Bay Area first, then expanding nationally. Most reports talk about how La Boulange will affect Starbucks by adding its sandwiches and pastries to their lineup. But not much detail is provided about how Starbucks will leave its mark on our Bay Area bakery aside from expanding the amount of stores that currently exist.
So what does this all mean for a staple of our neighborhood? If you look around, you won't find many retail stores in Hayes Valley. And there's a reason for that. There's a restriction on what types of "formula use" (or chain) stores can be in a neighborhood, and Hayes Valley and North Beach tend to be the strictest. As the San Francisco Business Times points out, "The move also puts Starbucks into the heart of San Francisco neighborhoods, such as Hayes Valley, that have strict rules against formula retail." Or as Business Insider refers to Hayes Valley, "Web-hipster central."
Will La Boulange start serving Starbucks coffee? Will they hoist up a new sign that says something like "La Boulange: proudly brewing Starbucks"? Note: that small detail was left out of their Facebook post yesterday evening where they wrote "We will still be your neighborhood French café, serving wholesome, made from scratch pastries, breads, tartines, salads and more." And can they remain at this prime location if they're now considered a "formula use" (or chain)? Let us know what you're thinking.

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