Pittsburgh-area Caribou Coffee shops closing to make way for Peet's

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Caribou Coffee Co., known for its cozy atmosphere and flavorful drinks, has closed the last of its Pittsburgh-area locations, which will be replaced by Peet's Coffee and Tea, a Berkeley, Calif.-based company.

Caribou Coffee on Brownsville Road in Brentwood had already closed, but its coffeehouses at the Waterworks Mall near Aspinwall, SouthSide Works on East Carson Street and on Forbes Avenue in Oakland closed 9 p.m. Sunday.

The four locations in the Pittsburgh area are among 88 other Caribou Coffee stores that will be converted to Peet's across Ohio, Michigan, Washington, D.C.; Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Illinois, eastern Wisconsin and other parts of Pennsylvania.

Mike Tattersfield, CEO of Caribou, which is based in Minneapolis and was founded in 1992, cited the re-evaluation of business strategy for Caribou's underperforming stores as one reason for the closings. It has almost 500 company-owned locations, making it one of the largest chains in the country, according to its website. "Over the past few months, we at Caribou have revisited our business strategy, including closely evaluating our performance by market to make decisions that best position us for long-term growth," Mr. Tattersfield wrote in a statement.

The Oakland location of Caribou was a popular study spot among college students, who are sad to see it go.

"When the signs for Peet's Coffee came up and I realized they were closing for good, I was shocked and really upset. We're sad to see it go. ... I love Caribou Coffee. It has such a great atmosphere, and the hot chocolate and mochas are delicious," said Rose Giardina, a University of Pittsburgh senior, who vowed to stay at the Oakland location all day Sunday in honor of its closing.

"Caribou is different; it's a warm, friendly, cozy and inviting space. It was easy to sit here if you wanted to stay. At some other coffee places, it's kind of rushed -- you go in, you get your coffee, and you leave," added another Pitt senior, Annie Moroco, who also said she would stay at the shop Sunday.

But Peet's has its devotees, too; some Giant Eagle stores have sold Peet's brands for several years.

The chain was started by Dutchman Alfred Peet in 1966 in Berkeley, after he moved to the United States and was "shocked" by what Americans called coffee. Its fans are known as "Peetniks."

Peet's started its expansion into the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions in August and will be opening 10 stores in the Cleveland area, six stores in the Columbus, Ohio, area, and two stores in Dayton, Ohio.

Amy Lester, a spokeswoman for Peet's, said in an email, "We're excited to bring Peet's to more neighborhoods across the U.S., and will share more details on further store openings in the Midwest and East Coast at a later time."

businessnews - neigh_south - dining

Noel Um is a former Post-Gazette intern; noel.brittany@gmail.com.


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