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article imageCafe interruptus: Starbucks to shut down La Boulange shops

By Nathan Salant     Jun 18, 2015 in Lifestyle
Seattle - Starbucks plans to shut down nearly two dozen La Boulange cafes it bought in 2012 but to continue to sell La Boulange baked goods in its stores nationwide, the world's largest coffee seller said Monday.
Three years after buying the upscale 23-store bakery-cafe chain, Starbucks said La Boulange was not compatible with the Seattle, Wash., coffee giant's long-term plans.
"Starbucks has determined La Boulange stores are not sustainable for the company’s long-term growth,” Starbucks said in a written statement, according to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.
Nearly all of the La Boulange cafes are in the San Francisco Bay Area, and most employees will be offered jobs with existing Starbucks locations, the company said.
But Starbucks said it would continue to sell La Boulange baked goods, which were considered to be the driving force for the original purchase in 2012.
Starbucks was purchasing products from outside vendors and wanted more control over quality and price.
La Boulange cafes were known for their French ambiance and for serving espresso drinks in large bowls instead of in cups, the newspaper said.
But Starbucks customers reportedly were not happy with the baked goods and Starbucks itself was not happy with operating a separate company that competed with its cafes.
The La Boulange chain was founded by Pascal Rigo, who became a top Starbucks executive after the $100 million sale, but is now said to be leaving the company.
La Boulange had recently opened new restaurants in San Francisco's West Portal and Inner Sunset neighborhoods.
“As a standard course of business, Starbucks continually evaluates all components of its business to confirm they are aligned with key priorities and strategies for growth, which includes the continued analysis of the store portfolio," the company said.
All 23 locations will be closed by September.
Starbucks also said it would close will also close its Evolution Fresh store in San Francisco, which provided bottle juices to company locations.
But Starbucks said it would keep open three other Evolution Fresh stores in Washington state, according to the Wall Street Journal newspaper.
Starbucks bought Evolution Fresh in 2011.
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