Caribou Coffee is closing stores in the Chicago-area and longtime employees and customers are steaming.
Douglas Kwiecinski, manager of the store on Aurora Road in Naperville, says he was told in a conference call Friday that 80 “underperforming” locations outside the company’s home base in Minnesota are being shut down, effective Sunday, April 14th. His store is on the list and he was given only 9 days notice that he was losing his job.
There are 66 Caribou Coffee locations in Illinois, according to the company’s website. Exactly how many are closing and how many jobs will be lost remains unclear. A spokesperson for the company did not respond to phone calls and emails seeking comment.
On Monday, WGN learned that most of Caribou Coffee’s downtown Chicago cafes will stay open but most suburban locations will close. Less than two years ago, Caribou announced it was expanding its presence in the Chicago area, which is Caribou’s second largest market following Minneapolis.
A German investment company bought Caribou last December. That company also owns Peet’s Coffee and plans to eventually convert the remaining Caribou Coffee stores in the Chicago area to Peet’s Coffee stores.
Customers and employees have taken social media to complain about the closings, including one Facebook page urging people to “Boycott Caribou Coffee.”
Caribou released a statement saying:
“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. With that, we will be closing 80 underperforming stores on April 14th, and an additional 88 coffeehouses across Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Illinois and Eastern Wisconsin will be converted to Peet’s Coffee & Tea locations over the next 12 to 18 months. Going forward, Caribou Coffee will be made up of 468 locations across Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Western Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas, North Carolina, Denver, and ten international markets. While the decisions we’ve made have been difficult for our team in Minneapolis, as well as our team members across the country and our guests and fans everywhere, we are working to make this transition as seamless as possible for the Caribou community. We look forward to continuing to deliver extraordinary experiences to our guests and fans, and thank everyone for their passion and commitment to Caribou.”