Does anyone actually like Starbucks' food?
The company will overhaul its menu after buying the La Boulange bakery chain. It's about time.
The Atlantic once described Starbucks' pastry selection as "embarrassingly sawdust-y." A Chowhound discussion over whether Starbucks makes any good food came up short. "I have never had anything that tasted 'real' at Starbucks," observed one commenter.
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Starbucks' roots are in coffees and other beverages. That's what made the company the giant it is. But give the company credit for constantly working on improving its food -- and now, it's just made one of its biggest investments ever in food quality.
The company is spending $100 million to buy the 19-store La Boulange bakery chain. La Boulange is based in San Francisco -- a city that knows food -- and gets pretty good reviews there for lobster sandwiches, coconut macarons, truffled macaroni and cheeseburgers with blue cheese and caramelized onions.
Starbucks plans to reinvent its menu with La Boulange products. It's a big move, and one that will completely change its food offerings. "We will demonstrate romance and deliver fresh food for our customers in ways that we have not done in 40 years," CEO Howard Schultz told analysts in a conference call Monday announcing the deal.
Starbucks' shareholders didn't respond well to the news. The stock was down nearly 3% Tuesday to $52.40. "Needless to say, we have overarching concerns of distraction from the core coffee platform and/or damage to the existing customer experience, similar to concerns from other recent non-coffee initiatives," wrote Barclays analyst Jeffrey Bernstein in a note obtained by Barron's.
That's absurd. Already, about a third of Starbucks' customer transactions involve food. Customers want something to go with their lattes, and better food will continue to drive sales. Starbucks' core coffee business is maturing, and the company is branching out into juice and grocery stores to keep profits growing. It needs to branch out into improved food as well.
Starbucks can do better than pre-made sandwiches in plastic wrap and bland pastries. I can't wait to see what Schultz is planning.
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I hope they keep some breakfast items that aren't loaded with fat and sugar.
Their egg white turkey bacon on english muffin is great as well as their oatmeal. I'd hate to see them replaced by cakes and donuts.
I can make coffee just like Starbucks at home. I just add 25 percent more coffee than I usually do. My schedule got so I was going to Starbucks quite a bit. The caffeine buzz I get seems to be stronger there.
I don't really like the coffee, so now that my schedule is "normal" I drink coffee at home.
Tried their food. It's awful.
This will all come down to execution. If Starbucks can open a few Panera-style shops that sell decent pastries and sandwiches, it could work. Any given market will only need a few of these restaurant-stores, which can supply the smaller shops with fresh baked goods daily. I think a large scale up-conversion would prove unsuccessful due to the enormous cost and dramatic change in customer experience. But, I don't see why they cant have the best of both worlds.
Aren't they supposed to start selling booze soon? A beer and a sandwich at Starbucks would be an interesting experience.
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