Get rid of new, bland La Boulange food items
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This past October weekend, I made one of my usual visits to my local Starbucks to take a lunch break. I was going to get a hot sandwich, a nice fall-oriented pastry, a tall hot beverage, and sit and read a book to relax. Unfortunately, my "relaxing" lunch turned into one of utter disgust and terror. I had shockingly been made aware that Starbucks was no longer offering ANY of their previous food options because they were now offering ONLY these new La Boulange products. Excuse me? There I stood, staring with a blank look upon my face as I gazed into the glass-covered case. Absolutely NOTHING looked visually appealing. Croissants? Tiny cookies? Cheap-looking glossy pastries? And -- GASP! -- DONUTS? I've seen better things pumped full of high fructose corn syrup in sealed boxes in my local grocery store. Were my eyes deceiving me? Nowhere did I see my favorite fall-time treat, the infamous pumpkin scone. In fact, there weren't ANY scones. There weren't any pumpkin cream cheese muffins. There was no Outrageous Oatmeal Cookie. There were no slices from delicious loaves of bread, pumpkin or otherwise. It was as if the Grinch came two months too soon and took Fall away from me. Then the shock really settled in: With Christmas approaching, this meant there would be NO gingerbread, no Cranberry Bliss Bars, no peppermint brownies!
There was basically nothing "substantial" or "hearty." My lunch was ruined. Not just my appetite, but also my admiration of Starbucks, both as a consumer and a stockholder. I felt betrayed as a Gold Card carrying consumer. Worse, I felt like Starbucks had made the biggest mistake with my investment.
With little hope, I asked the cashier, "Do you not have the pumpkin scones anymore?" No, she sadly replied, trying to be enthusiastic about the new products. "We have donuts! They're really good!" Um, no. I'll pass. For anyone who doesn't know (apparently, that includes the Starbucks executives), donuts and Starbucks do NOT go together. I'm at Starbucks, not Dunkin Donuts. Not Krispy Kreme. STARBUCKS. Let's get that straight. There's a different clientele. And there's a reason for that. The same goes for plain bagels. If I wanted a bagel, I'd be at Einstein Bagels or Panera. She then said they still have blueberry scones left if I'd like that. I agreed, although it wasn't anywhere near what I had my mind (and stomach) set on. I paid for my food and drink purchases and then she informed me that she was wrong and they didn't have any scones left. AT ALL. Probably because that was the only thing that looked remotely appetizing to anyone in the store. She advised that I could pick out any item since I'd already paid. Oh, goody! Which disgusting looking thing should I shove into my mouth? Previously LOVING the pumpkin cream cheese muffin that Starbucks previously carried (and that I previously enjoyed only two weeks prior), I opted for the La Boulange's generic, dry-looking pumpkin cream cheese loaf cake. Visually, it was nowhere near as appealing as their previous muffin, but frankly I didn't have much choice. Then I tasted it. What's French for cardboard? Was it pumpkin? Was there cream cheese? Who knew? I think the paper bag it came in would have tasted the same.
Now let's talk about "heating." Apparently these new pastries from La Boulange must all be heated. Is that to cover up the fact that they're flavorless? Do they think that heating up cardboard makes it taste any better? The old treats never needed to be heated and they tasted fantastic, fresh, and moist. That's why I kept returning to Starbucks for them, either locally or out of town. On vacation, I could always rely on Starbucks' consistent quality as a place for a tasty beverage, a delicious treat, or a hot "fast food" breakfast option when my only other choices would have been a McDonald's or Burger King. Who wants to stand around and wait for their "treat" to be heated each and every time? And, speaking for the Starbucks employees, who has time to heat EVERYTHING up when you have a line of 10 people out the door waiting to place their orders for drinks that are ten sentences long? Ain't nobody got time for that...
Another thing I noticed about the new offerings is that there was nothing "shareable." For me, Starbucks has always been a social gathering place. It was a great place to spend some time with a friend where we could just sit, relax, and talk over hot drinks and a shared treat or two because of their built-in sharing size. The new La Boulange offerings are NOT shareable. They're small, bite-size, and don't lend themselves to that social capability. "Hey--you want to split a mini loaf of bread that tastes like cardboard? Or maybe a sugary glazed reheated donut? Mmmm..." At least with the former slices of bread that Starbucks used to offer, it didn't "feel" like they were previously frozen and thawed. They looked and tasted like they were fresh from the oven. They didn't need La Boulange's new "warming" technique to give them flavor and appeal. That's just a cover-up for bland food.
According to an article I read, Starbucks' CEO Howard Schultz said that only a third of Starbucks' customers purchase food items. I know he hopes that the removal of all Starbucks' past products and adding La Boulange will increase food sales, but I highly doubt it. With the lack of appealing options, that number is going to drop, not increase, starting with me. I will no longer EVER visit Starbucks to purchase food items until this mistake has been reversed. When I go to Starbucks, it will be for drinks only from now on. And by the look of other customers in the store I was just in and comments I've read online, I'm not the only one who feels this way. Congratulations on a poor business decision, Mr. Schultz. What were HIS kickbacks in this whole deal? Because he obviously did not do a taste test with any of the new food offerings. He just saw future dollar signs in his bonus check where there should be none.
Did Mr. Schultz not think his customers and stockholders would rebel? As a Starbucks customer and/or stockholder, please join me in petitioning Starbucks to depose La Boulange and return to their previous menu offerings.
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