Only a few weeks after Starbucks stores (review) in San Francisco started serving La Boulange pastries, three of San Bruno’s Starbucks locations have La Boulange pastries on offer. La Boulange pastries can now be had at the Starbucks in downtown San Bruno, in Tanforan Mall, and at the popular 24-hour Starbucks in the shopping plaza across the street from Tanforan Mall.
Added to the menu of coffee drinks, cakes and cookies, and grab-and-go sandwiches, are breakfast sandwiches and a sample of La Boulange’s sweet and savory pastries, including American-style coffee cakes and more French-style croissant-based items. Among these are ham and cheese, spinach and cheese, and hot-dog croissants, heated at the time the order is placed.
No decline in quality from what Bay Area diners have come to expect from La Boulange is noticible. They’re not soggy or dry from the handling or from being made centrally, shipped, and heated using Starbucks’s limited facilities.
Starbucks was often compared in its earlier days to Italian espresso chains. The introduction of breakfast sandwiches and pastries heated to order brings it, perhaps by coincidence, closer to Italy’s Autogrill restaurants, where travelers can have a quality coffee and a pre-made sandwich heated to order. The La Boulange savory pastries are a step up from the restaurant’s previous grab-and-go items, making Starbucks considerably more attractive as a place to take a working lunch.
Starbucks bought the San Francisco-based pastry chain La Boulange last year, with plans to open at least two hundred standalone La Boulange stores nationwide. San Francisco Market Examiner John Egan reported that La Boulange was attractive to Starbucks in part due to a shared corporate vision: to introduce a foreign product to American diners and define the American market for that product. Starbucks almost created the domestic espresso market as we know it, and CEO Howard Schultz is expecting La Boulange to do the same for French pastries.
The Bay Area is the test market for La Boulange upgrades to Starbucks restaurants, and the rollout is happening store-by-store. No information is available concerning whether and when La Boulange pastries will be on offer at the Bayhill location or inside the Target store at Tanforan.