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Starbucks courted San Francisco's upscale La Boulange bakery chain for six months before buying it in 2012, for $100 million in cash. At the time, the acquisition was hailed as a definitive step to get top-shelf bakery products into the coffee giant's massive system, while also providing another avenue for expansion: 400 units within five years, some said. A jubilant La Boulange official said he had "confidence that Starbucks will stay true to the La Boulange brand" as it spread the quirky bakery to across the country.
Three years later, little more than crumbs remain of those plans.