On Tuesday, Starbucks announced it was closing all 23 La Boulange locations, three years after it purchased the local chain for $100 million. Though the company didn't announce specific closure dates, we've learned that the La Boulange locations in Cole Valley and the Inner Sunset will remain open through late September.
The final day for La Boulange de Sunset (1266 9th Ave.) is September 25, according to an employee. A worker at La Boulange de Cole Valley (1000 Cole St.) said "we're closing in late September, but that's all I know." Starbucks has said they'll make efforts to find La Boulange staff positions in their coffee shops, "but I haven't heard any details," said an employee, who asked to remain anonymous.
La Boulange de Cole Valley, which opened in 2001.
"Even though they own us [La Boulange], I don't want to work at Starbucks," said the anonymous barista. "They bought us just to shut us down? I don't trust them at all."
La Boulange de Sunset opened in 2013 as part of a mixed-use development on the site of a former funeral home. The restaurant occupies 5,650 square feet on the ground floor, with 11 housing units above. Consistently crowded on evenings and weekends, the restaurant is just around the corner from a Starbucks location that also does brisk business.
La Boulange de Sunset, which debuted in 2013.
Given the space's size and the proximity of a Starbucks, it's unlikely that another coffee shop will move into the location, but Starbucks may see the closure as an opportunity to snag a bigger space. As Hoodline reported last month, the Inner Sunset Starbucks has announced plans to sell beer and wine in the evenings, although it has yet to apply for an Alcohol Beverage Control license. Starbucks could conceivably take over La Boulange's spot when it closes and use the extra room for the Starbucks Evenings expansion, but the chain would first need to receive a conditional-use permit from the Planning Commission.
"I have nothing against Starbucks, to be honest," said David Feng, owner of 9th Avenue's Snowbird Coffee. "A lot of people in the industry play them off as this big, evil corporation, but they really paved the way for stores like ours to be open in the first place."
La Boulange de Sunset and Starbucks are around the corner from each other.
"I see it more as a bit of a tragedy, since when it opened, there were a lot of people who thought it would be great for the community," said Feng. "I just hope that they do all they can for the people who are going to be losing their jobs. Not to mention the two factories in the Bayview that do all the baking, which are going to be shut down, too."
"It's coffee, so it's a constantly changing environment," said Feng. "You just have to keep up with the times."
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