Starbucks tests dinner crowd with croissant burger

The company is launching a new La Boulange restaurant in Los Angeles that will serve salads, sandwiches and cocktails.

By MSN Money Partner May 27, 2014 1:02PM
Credit: © David Paul Morris/Getty Images
Caption: Pedestrian in front of La Boulange caféBy Venessa Wong, Businessweek

No restaurant chain wants to miss out on the current fast-casual craze, it seems.


Consumers continue to fork over a premium for food and decor that's a step up from a local drive-through but not measurably slower. Yum (YUM) has been testing upscale versions in the KFC and Taco Bell families.


Now, Starbucks (SBUX) is launching a continental diner.

The company, which acquired San Francisco chain La Boulange Bakery in 2012, will on June 12 open a restaurant in Los Angeles called La Boulange

Unlike its bakeries (and competitor Le Pain Quotidien), which close by about 7 p.m., the La Boulange restaurant will serve dinner until 10 p.m. The menu starts with the  bakery's menu of sandwiches, salads, and omelets and adds such later-in-the-day options as croissant burgers, cocktails, beer, and wine.

It's easy to see why Starbucks wants to enter the dinner market. After sundown, the cafe chain largely loses to competitors such as Panera (PNRA), which racks up 22 percent of its sales at dinner. Starbucks has already announced an "Evenings" menu at its cafes -- and will no doubt try to apply any lessons to its new restaurant.

Starbucks has also been tweaking its food offerings in response to customer complaints about the baked goods from La Boulange, which have drawn mixed reviews -- while replacing customer favorites such as iced lemon loaf cake. In April, Starbucks acknowledged the grumbling and brought back loaf cakes

Opinions of La Boulange's several Bay Area locations are better, and Pascal Rigo, founder of La Boulange, said he expects breakfast, lunch, and weekend brunch to be mainstays at the new restaurant. No one has vouched for the croissant burger yet.

More from Businessweek

May 27, 2014 3:52PM
I have crossed Starbucks off my list of places to do business with after the behavior they showed in New York City on 9/11 when they charged full price or even 1 Penney to people coming in for water to clear their eyes from the dust and debris falling from the World trade center as it came down. The CEO offered a refund after the outcry of their outrageous action went viral
May 27, 2014 2:30PM
Next up, Starbucks deep fried cheeze curds and  deep fried twinkies. 
May 27, 2014 3:25PM
Oprah must be behind this now that she is a major stake holder. But wait, wasn`t she against the beef industry?
May 28, 2014 1:36AM
McDonalds has cheaper and BETTER coffee than Starbucks. Starbucks is nothing but an over priced hang out for yuppie libs.
May 27, 2014 2:20PM
Here comes the coffee drinkers, if you want to call that swill coffee...?
May 27, 2014 2:41PM
what happened to fake gumby?  Have to go upstairs to eat Mom's PBJ....??
May 27, 2014 4:01PM
Taco Barf and KF-Chicken Choke suck. Them going upscale is like putting a marble floor in a trailer. Starsmucks is another suck fest disaster as well. If you want to compete with Crapera Spread you need to develop a full fledge fast casual concept. No one wants to do the hard work and actually compete head on. This is why Shittpolte and Punani Barf continue to dominate the segment. There is some great rising competition though.
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