Caribou and Bruegger’s already are neighbors in many locations. Now they will test integrated stores in the Twin Cities.
How about a freshly made cinnamon raisin bagel with your Northern Lite Latte?
Caribou Coffee and Bruegger’s Bagels are joining brands under one roof in a test at about 10 locations, half of them in the Twin Cities, according to Caribou CEO Mike Tattersfield.
The restaurant competitors already share common walls in locations such as St. Louis Park, Minnetonka, Edina, Eagan, North Oaks, Roseville and Woodbury. But the new concept is to combine the best of both under one roof, said Donald Ritacca, senior vice president of bakery operations at Bruegger’s in Minneapolis.
“We’re doing it for our guests,” he said. “Before they had to stand in two lines. This will be more convenient.”
The side-by-side stores are already popular with customers, Tattersfield said. The new co-branding will mean retrofitting existing Caribous and Bruegger’s in the Twin Cities and North Carolina, as well as creating new integrated locations, he said.
The two restaurants began their coexistence at 44th and France 20 years ago, and they now share several markets. They chose the Twin Cities for the new test because it’s the largest market for both chains. Caribou has nearly 200 metro locations, and Bruegger’s has 37.
The first of the newly combined stores is expected to open before the end of the year, Ritacca said.
The twofer is common for restaurants with the same parent, such as Yum Brands with Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC, but it’s less common for independently owned restaurants.
Bruegger’s, based in Burlington, Conn., also has co-branding under one roof with Jamba Juice in Connecticut. Caribou has co-branded only with the bagel company.
“It’s a pretty good idea,” said restaurant consultant Bob Goldin of Technomic Inc. “They’re reasonably compatible and synergistic.
“Everyone is pushing coffee these days, and this offers Caribou a better bakery and sandwich program. Caribou’s frozen bagels aren’t that good.”
Although many of the two brands’ customers welcomed the idea on Facebook, Kathryn Coats of Minneapolis isn’t so sure. As a former barista, she questions whether Bruegger’s employees will be adequately trained to make specialty coffee drinks. “Baristas are trained very differently than most food service employees,” she said.
The news is the latest in a series of changes for Caribou, which recently announced that it is closing 80 stores and rebranding 88 more as Peet’s Coffee & Tea.
John Ewoldt • 612-673-7633