It all started when one fine day, Giuseppi's, an Italian restaurant in our neighborhood, posted a liquidation sale sign. Giuseppi's restaurant had been on the corner of Bluemound and Highway 100 for ages, and I was a little concerned about what might replace it. Last thing we needed around here was a cheesy strip mall.
I watched and waited, until one day, a sign went up with a rendering of a new shopping center. Giuseppi's decided to rebuild on the same spot and anchor the group of shops with a compact version of their former restaurant! They had also secured a Qdoba Mexican restaurant and a Caribou Coffee shop as their other tenants. Yeah!
I'd been to Caribou in Minneapolis downtown and at the airport and loved their coffee and great design sense. In fact, I now realize I'd been to Caribou way back in the 90's -- long before visiting my first Starbucks. So, you could say I was pretty happy to get this news. :-)
As the months passed, I watched the building being built. The design of the structure (I hesitate to call this a strip mall because it's so classy) looked quite nice, with cherry wood trim, high ceilings and full glass windows at the front of each store. On one end of the building there was an odd little bit jutting out, which would become Caribou Coffee.
Fast forward to Tuesday, September 16th (today). This was the first day Caribou was open to the public, and to celebrate, free coffee of the day was being offered to anyone who stopped by between 11am and 1pm. Being one to not turn down good coffee (especially for free), Gail and I brought Nathan over to Caribou, to pay a little visit. There was a good amount of traffic into Caribou, though I suppose free coffee will do that. Still, the shop is located in a great location and should do well.
I'm quite pleased that Caribou has come to our neighborhood, because it will offer me a nice place to work if I need a change of pace and It's just only a 5 minute walk away. Caribou's interior looks like an Alaskan lodge, with wood everywhere, comfortable chairs tucked into the corners of the shop. There was even a fireplace burning near the entrance. All in all, a slightly different (and nicer) atmosphere than the average, much more sterile Starbucks. I really like that it feels comfy and inviting.
By the way, Caribou makes it pretty clear they're going after Starbucks, which is good to see. One sign in the store suggested that their coffee is always fresher (21 days old max) and below the headline, sat two bags of coffee -- a Caribou bag on the left and next to it a green coffee bag with circular logo covered by a paper bag with eye holes. It was pretty clear this represented ol' Starbucks.
The coffee was very good -- not bitter or over-roasted. I'll have to try their espresso shots another day. I've heard good reports from other coffee-loving friends who love Caribou's coffee, and I must agree, they were on the money.
Now I just need to convince the store manager to install free WiFi with Internet access, and I'll be set -- the perfect office away from the office, just 5 minutes away. Dyn-o-mite! :-)