After Food Successes, Caribou Debuts Grilled Cheese

Caribou's breakfast sandwiches caught on after they debuted earlier this year; now, the coffee retailer is launching grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch.

After introducing breakfast sandwiches earlier this year and seeing a subsequent boost in same-store sales, Caribou Coffee Company said Monday that it has begun offering lunch options beginning with “grown-up grilled cheese.”

The sandwiches will be made with food items such as smoked Gouda, grilled chicken breast, caramelized onion, and arugula pesto. There will be four varieties from which to choose: three cheese classic, Gouda turkey pesto, aged cheddar roast, and Italian chicken melt.

The sandwiches will range in cost from $3.50 to $4.25 depending on the store location. Chips or a cookie can be ordered with a grilled cheese sandwich for $1.

In January, Caribou started offering four varieties of “Daybreaker” breakfast sandwiches and two mini breakfast sandwiches at 200 of its locations. Those additions came about a year after handcrafted oatmeal was added to Caribou's coffeehouse menus.

Caribou said in May that its first quarter same-store sales-sales at coffeehouses open for at least a year-rose 4.3 percent, primarily due to the launch of the breakfast sandwiches.

“Our customers stop in for their favorite beverages all day long, so offering food that can be enjoyed for breakfast as well as lunch or dinner was a natural next step for Caribou,” Alfredo Martel, senior vice president of marketing and product management, said in a statement. “We know guests love our wholesome Daybreaker breakfast sandwiches and handcrafted oatmeal in the morning, and we hope our premium grilled cheese sandwiches will have them coming back for a delicious lunch or dinner.”

Caribou CEO Mike Tattersfield told the Star Tribune last month that the company is already thinking of new food ideas for fall, winter, and next summer. Among the possibilities are quiche and stuffed croissants.

New and improved food and beverage products have been a focus of Tattersfield since he joined Caribou in 2008-and the company's financials have improved during that period. Revenue jumped 8.2 percent to $284 million in 2010, and net income rose 83 percent between 2009 and 2010.