San Francisco's beloved Tartine Bakery, which was founded in 2002 by baker Chad Robertson and pastry chef Elisabeth Prueitt, has merged with Blue Bottle Coffee, the Bay Area-based roaster and retailer. According to the New York Times, Tartine Bakery plans to open locations in Los Angeles and New York City. Thanks to Blue Bottle's footprint in each of these cities, the expansion will likely be smooth and swift.
In January, Robertson hinted at the possibility of opening a bread-only bakery in New York City. As of last September, Tartine had plans to open in Tokyo, where Blue Bottle recently opened a roastery and store. Notably, details of the merger state that the two companies will continue to operate independently, that Robertson and Prueitt will continue to oversee all bakery production and operations, and that Bar Tartine is not part of the merger. According to the Times, Bar Tartine will be sold to its head chefs Nicolaus Balla and Cortney Burns.
The news comes just over one year after Blue Bottle Coffee — which was also founded in 2002 — raised more than $25 million in investment funding. In 2012, the coffee company raised $20 million to focus on expansion. This money will surely come in handy as Tartine stretches its once small footprint across the country — and globe.
"After 13 years with one location in SF, we are moving into Japan (three years in the planning), LA, and NY over the next year," Robertson confirmed in a release. Robertson's new role with the company will be CEO; Prueitt will remain executive pastry chef.
Last month, Robertson hinted at this merger to Eater. In a note discussing his operations partners, he expressly defined Blue Bottle as his business partner in the Tokyo venture:
"We're still working with our Japanese company, they're kind of doing what they do on the ground for us," he explains. "But the business partner is Tartine with Blue Bottle." Along with a mutual respect, Robertson says part of what attracted him to Blue Bottle is how well it handled its recent Tokyo opening. "I was there I was just in the middle of the whole thing and there's a very clear view of how well-prepared, well-organized and professional the whole [Blue Bottle] launch was," he says. "And I like, 'Yeah, I would love to work with these guys.'"
Robertson and Blue Bottle's founder James Freeman have known each other for 10 years. Said Robertson of the partnership, "I've been talking about the things that are about to happen now for years, but I was always looking for the right partner." This is good news for fans of both companies. As they integrate operations, Tartine will serve Blue Bottle coffee at each location, and Blue Bottle will serve Tartine's pastries and breads at its shops.
Of note: Oakland-based Blue Bottle Coffee is a venture-backed company, which means its high-rolling investors are expecting rapid growth. The company's most recent raise of $25.75 million came primarily from "high-profile Internet players." Tartine's future looks bright, but the bakery has never answered to a board of directors before. Will Blue Bottle's tech board jive with Robertson and Prueitt's decidedly anti-corporate, almost homespun style? Clearly, the two companies will have some growing pains to work out in between those lovely lattes and perfect pains au chocolat.Eater Video: Tartine's epic family-style feast
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