Panera Brands is launching a domestic franchise program for Caribou Coffee. It’s the latest step in a plan private equity firm JAB Holding Co. unveiled in August when the owner of multiple chain concepts pulled together three of its brands — Panera Bread, Caribou Coffee and Einstein Bros. Bagels — under the umbrella of Panera Brands. The goal of this plan remains to turbocharge growth for all three concepts.

Caribou Coffee, which started in Minnesota in 1992, has grown to more than 718 locations systemwide, including 314 company-owned stores, primarily across the Midwest.

As part of the chain’s preparation to grow, Caribou Coffee rolled out its new Caribou Cabin prototype in 2019 that features a significantly smaller footprint and a drive-thru-focused model designed to offer speed and convenience that doesn’t sacrifice quality and service.

Spearheaded by the brand's President and CEO John Butcher, the Caribou Cabins' streamlined design and efficient performance model translated to success, with the first several stores reporting strong customer satisfaction scores and sales and traffic even in the midst of the pandemic, per a release from Caribou. Over the past two years, the chain has leveraged this momentum to propel its expansion via the Caribou Cabin model with dozens of new locations and more in development. 

The Caribou Cabin design coupled with the concept's traditional coffeehouse prototype, featuring a larger footprint for sit-down dining, offers franchisees flexible offerings that can cater to the unique criteria of their market and accelerate growth.

"Leveraging our unit growth and omnichannel performance, we've designed scalable processes and support services to enable franchisees' success," says Butcher. "Recognizing Caribou Cabins' immense expansion potential, we've optimized this business model through our corporate-owned locations and are focused on replicating the success we've experienced in new markets in partnership with franchise owners."