Caribou brewing toward opening

Published 11:43 am Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Caribou Coffee is set to open its Austin location June 14.

Next Tuesday, Austin Hy-Vee store Director Todd Hepler plans to open the doors to a one-of-a-kind coffee shop and let the customers “flood in.”

Hepler said Caribou Coffee and the majority of the new Hy-Vee Gas will open for the first time at 5:30 a.m. on June 14.

“It’s been a long process, and to finally see it come together, it feels like we went full circle and all the hard work has paid off,” Hepler said.

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While Caribou Coffee kiosks are common in Hy-Vee stores, the two companies had never paired to attach the coffee shop itself to a Hy-Vee.

But Hepler submitted that proposal to Caribou, a Minnesota-based company, and he said store officials were pleased with the idea of giving the idea a go in the state where it began.

“I’d seen for years that they put the kiosk inside the store, and we’re right off of (Interstate) 90,” he said earlier this year. “(Customers) look for Caribou. I thought, ‘What a better way to do it?’”

The coffee shop is joined with the gas station, allowing customers inside to flow freely from one location to the other. The interior of Caribou will seat up to 28 people and offer the traditional Caribou atmosphere, complete with a fireplace, WiFi Internet connection, cable TV and outdoor patio seating. The coffee shop will also feature a drive-through. Besides a plethora of coffee choices, they also serve different varieties of iced tea and smoothies.

“It’s exciting to have Caribou,” Hepler said. “This is the first one of its kind … so it’s really exciting.”

The project, which Hepler said should cost just over $1 million, expanded the building from 1,500 square feet to 4,100 square feet. Parking was also expanded to 25 spots.

Hy-Vee Weitz Construction is the general contractor and Wagner Construction of Austin is doing the construction work.

The final portion of the gas station is slated to open during the first week in August, adding new pumps and diesel stations, which the store didn’t have.

The gas station will be open 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week. Caribou Coffee’s hours are 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day.

A Caribou kiosk also opened inside Albert Lea’s Hy-Vee on April 7, located near the front of that store.