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National coffee brand chooses Tampa Bay for first Florida locations

Minnesota-based Caribou Coffee signs an agreement with local franchisee Wake Up 727.

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  • | 1:40 p.m. April 19, 2022
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Caribou Coffee, a national premium coffee chain owned by Panera Brands, has inked a deal that will bring its coffeehouses to Clearwater, St. Petersburg and Tampa.

Based in Minnesota, Caribou Coffee was founded in 1992 and has expanded across the country, with 721 locations, mostly in the Midwest. Its new stores in the Tampa Bay region will mark the brand’s first foray into Florida, according to a news release.

Local franchisee Wake Up 727, owned and operated by Bill and Michelle Mathis, plans to open at least one Caribou Coffee cafe by the end of 2022, the release states. Michelle Mathis hails from Minnesota, where she became familiar with the brand.

“When I began considering new franchises to diversify my portfolio, it was important to find a brand aligned with my core values that also offered an experience that would resonate with consumers throughout Florida’s west coast,” Michelle states in the release. “As a Minnesota native, I was already familiar with Caribou Coffee and its success in the Midwest and was excited to learn about the brand's focus for expansion in the Southeast through franchising. I quickly jumped at the opportunity and have no doubt that Caribou’s innovative products will thrive in the growing Tampa market.”

The Mathises, according to the release, owned and operated several Subway franchises in Minnesota before relocating to the Sunshine State.

“We are excited to further introduce the state of Florida to Caribou Coffee’s hand-crafted, premium products, and beloved company culture,” Caribou Coffee President and CEO John Butcher states in the release. “With over 20 years of experience in the franchise industry, Michelle and Bill Mathis are the perfect duo to introduce and lead our brand across the Tampa region. They know and love our brand and have roots in Minnesota where Caribou Coffee was founded. We’re thrilled to be expanding our footprint nationwide alongside such outstanding franchise partners.”


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