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Sold Out?

Have these local, artisanal favorites sold-out to big corporations?


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The Bay Area is supposed to be the last bastion of honest food, a place where righteous companies make artisanal products from pristine, organic, sustainable ingredients that the Man wouldn’t understand. But this year has seen several foodie favorites sell out to behemoth corporations.


Peet’s Coffee & Tea

After years of denying a sale to rival Starbucks, this beloved Berkeley-founded institution was bought by German private equity firm Joh. A. Benckiser for a cool $974 million.  

Verdict: Benckiser quickly pledged minimal disruption, even keeping on all of Peet’s current staff. But sorry: Private equity plus $1 billion equals sellout.
 

La Boulange

The San Francisco bakery, with three new East Bay stores, dropped a bombshell when it announced that it would be bought by Starbucks for $100 million.

Verdict: Starbucks intends to open 400 bakeries across the country, and will stock its shops with La Boulange breads and pastries. Owner Pascal Rigo insists that quality will remain high, but c’mon. Starbucks? Sellout!
 

Alice Waters

The grande dame of California cuisine announced a partnership with Hyatt for an organic prix fixe kids’ menu at the high-end hotel chain.

Verdict: Hyatt made a “generous” donation to Waters’ Edible Schoolyard Project, so this actually sounds like a win-win. No sellout. Well played, Alice.
 

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