Bye ‘bou! The original Caribou Coffee closes its doors after 31 years in business

Exterior of original Caribou Coffee01
An awning outside the founding location of Caribou Coffee reads "The Original Caribou Coffee" in Edina on Nov. 9.
Carly Berglund | MPR News

The awning that has proudly read “The Original Caribou Coffee” on France Avenue in Edina for the past 31 years is coming down.

The first-ever Caribou location opened on 4408 France Ave. back in Dec. 1992, and store employees confirmed the planned closure last month. On Tuesday, regular customers and former employees filed into the store and said their goodbyes to the coffee shop.

“This is my third time here today, if that says anything,” Maggie Murphy, a regular customer and employee of Gear Running Store, the storefront located next door to the Caribou.

Employees handed free drip coffee to anyone who entered the store and reconnected with former fellow employees and regular customers.

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“What will be missed the most is the community,” General Manager Lucas Lemmer said. “Losing the building is sad, but it’s really the people and the community that is hard to leave.”

As for the building, most photos and other original fixtures, like signage, woodwork and awnings are being taken down and stored. A sign that contains signatures from all of the location’s employees since 2009 will be saved, too.

The current employees at the Edina location have already been offered positions at other nearby locations, said Adam Krook, director of operations at Caribou Coffee.

“It’s a time of change. We’re continuing to support all of the communities where we want to continue to evolve and grow, and that’s where people are doing that,” Krook said.

The company has not provided a reason for the closure at this time.

In the store, customers took selfies with chalk murals that read “Caribou staff at 44th and France miss you already!” On the trivia question of the day board, which customers normally guess at for a chance to get 10 cents off a drink, read “What is your favorite memory that you’ve made while visiting the very first Caribou?” on the closing day.

On their second and third visits of the day, Murphy’s mother Michelle Horan recounted the time the pair has spent at the location.

“She was raised in this neighborhood, so we always just stopped here. You end up seeing a bunch of familiar faces and it’s just nice to walk in, people know who you are,” Horan said. “We all love coming here for a reason.”

At 2 p.m., the shop served its final coffee after three decades of service. It’s a tough goodbye not only for the Edina community, but for many Minnesotans, too.

“Caribou is our thing, right? It started here, and it became nationwide, but this is where it started,” Horan said.