Starbucks is changing its pastry menu and expanding lunch

Starbucks stores in the Sacramento area will soon stock a new line of baked goods as the coffee-centric chain continues to roll out its line of baked goods under the La Boulange brand. Starbucks acquired the San Francisco bakery in June 2012. Also, the company intends to roll out a menu of hot and cold sandwiches from La Boulange, to go on sale nationwide as early as this fall.

“Of the 600-plus stores I (oversee), 230 of them (including those in the Greater Sacramento area) will have the new (line of baked goods) by Jan. 28,” said Sarah Meadows, Starbucks’ food business partner for Northern California. “The other 400 throughout Northern California have had the new (line) for a year. By September, we should have 7,000 stores nationwide with these products.”

The baked goods include classic and almond croissants, muffins, scones, pastries, loaf cakes and cookies.

“I tasted all of them, and I also tasted (all the items on) our new lunch platform, which is still in the testing phase,” Meadows said. “We’re (testing) a beef brisket with cheddar and smoked onions sandwich that’s to die for. (Also) a grilled cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread and at least six others.”

Part of the testing includes customizable sauces, such as tomato-pesto, chimichurri and barbecue.

Sounds like Starbucks is becoming a restaurant chain. “We’re always looking to find what customers want, and they have asked us for more lunch options — options that change and are new, and not the same old thing,” Meadows said. “We are keeping up with the times.”

“The key is to make Starbucks a regular lunch destination,” said Holly Shafer, a Starbucks spokeswoman. “We want Starbucks to be on our customers’ lunch rotation lists.”

Walk into any Starbucks store and it’s soon obvious the hard-working staffers already spend a lot of time heating bagels, breakfast sandwiches and panini in microwave ovens. Won’t the additional duty of preparing more sandwiches slow the flow?

“From a speed-of-service perspective, we’re constantly looking at increasing equipment and labor, if needed, to support the customer and the partner experiences,” Meadows said. “Many stores have doubled their oven count and/or are scheduling their labor differently to assure that people are in the right places.”