Starbucks Begins Rolling Out Its New Menu Items in
As part its plan to amp up the food segment of its retail business,
) acquired the San Francisco-based La Boulange Bakery for $100
million in June 2012. Now, with La Boulange food products gradually
being rolled out across the country, the new pastries and assorted
baked goods have finally made their way to 50 stores in New York
City. By the end of the 2014's fiscal year (the end of September
2014), the company aims to have 7,000 of its US stores serving La
The question is, will La Boulange prove to be a valuable investment
that allows Starbucks to more evenly compete with bakery
restaurants like Au Bon Pain, Le Pain Quotidien, and even the
)? Or was the dough wasted?
For $100 million, Starbucks obviously believes that it has
potential in the bakery fast-food market, and it has put a lot of
its faith in Pascal Rigo, the French-American restaurateur behind
La Boulange. According to him, every year, some 1.5 billion people
come into Starbucks stores around the world without ordering food.
His main goal is to change that.
Rigo's San Francisco empire of bakeries consists of 22 locations
that bring in about 140,000 customers per week. In the US,
Starbucks serves nearly 40 million patrons every week. Rigo now
leads Starbucks's revamped food operation from a huge,
40,000-square-foot research center in San Francisco.
Under Rigo, Starbucks's new food offerings will be entirely without
artificial flavors, dyes, or preservatives. As Rigo said, "It's the
habit of processed food to look pretty." Speaking of his own
pastries, he added, "These aren't pretty, or they're about as
pretty as what you'd make at home." One thing that some of the new
Starbucks food offerings will be, however, is frozen.
Following is an edited review from the user "evalunta" on
They just rolled out the La Boulange pastries in SoCal this
week. C'est le crap! I wasn't going to eat my butternut squash
pastry right away and so I asked them nicely not to heat it up and
it FREAKED the entire staff out. The cashier, the barista, and the
manager all argued with me and I hate to say it, but I caused a
scene and my 12-year-old son isn't talking to me right now. But it
was very satisfying that they admitted that the filling would be
FROZEN. Hmmm frozen pastries. The whole place heard. Heehee. I
heated it up at home later and it wasn't that bad. But I don't like
to be forced to eat warmed-up pastries.
Many other reviews like this have circulated on the Internet, and
the gist is that La Boulange's food offerings are nothing special,
although they're not necessarily bad.
As one customer told me, "I had a blueberry muffin that I thought
was pretty good. But maybe I was just really hungry."
Perhaps the early negative reviews simply signify that Starbucks's
new La Boulange offerings are suffering from opening months
jitters, and that the company will continue to improve the quality
of its food as part of its push to rival Panera and other bakery
rivals. Or maybe Starbucks will regret the $100 million investment
and just move on with its domination of the coffee retail industry.
In a recent interview, CBS News's John Blackstone presented Rigo
with a cold hard fact, saying, "[Starbucks] has tried food before
and hasn't succeeded."
To this, Rigo replied, "But they didn't have a baker, and now they
McDonald's Has a New Mobile Ordering App
The fast-food giant is making ordering food at its restaurants even
At locations in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Austin, Texas,
) is currently testing a new smartphone app that allows users to
both order and pay for their food before they even enter the
restaurant. This is the latest news in a long series of high-tech
experiments at the seemingly traditional fast-food giant.
Currently, the company is testing wireless charging stations for
cellphones and other devices in several of its European stores.
Going back even further, McDonald's was one of the very first
companies, fast-food or otherwise, that offered its customers
completely free, no-strings-attached Wi-Fi access.
Many fast-food and retail companies have followed the example of
McDonald's. For example, Starbucks followed McDonald's and began
offering free Wi-Fi, and it is also currently testing wireless
charging stations in all of its Silicon Valley, California,
branches. Moreover, the coffee retailer allows its customers in the
US and Canada to pay for their coffees, mochas, or Pumpkin Spice
Lattes with the Pay by Square app for
Cinnabon's New Pizzabon
Since 1985, the shopping mall food court staple Cinnabon has served
sweets exclusively. Heading up its line of baked goods since the
very beginning has been its classic Cinnabon cinnamon roll. Now 28
years old, the company is introducing a savory option for a limited
time: the "Pizzabon." The new mini pizza roll is available for
$2.99, but for now, it's only at the Cinnabon venue in Atlanta's
Cumberland Mall, which features a test kitchen for trying new
The new Pizzabon is the size of the company's Minibon, but it is
baked with cheese, tomato sauce, and pepperoni. Obviously, offering
a product that is not sweet and sticky will have its challenges for
the company. Said Rachel Hadley, a spokesperson for the company,
"It's a little tricky because I think a lot of people think of
Cinnabon and think of a sweet indulgence and not necessarily
Moreover, Hadley noted the difficulty that other products face
gaining traction at Cinnabon, given the huge popularity of its
simple Classic Roll. "We've had the Minibon -- the smaller version
of the Classic Roll -- for 25 years, but not a lot of people know
us for the Minibon because people focus on the Classic."
Whether the Pizzabon expands beyond Atlanta remains to be seen.
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