Caribou Coffee will soon have a presence in Columbus near the Forest Lake border. The Columbus Council approved a site plan for a drive-thru only Caribou Coffee location with a 4-1 vote on Wednesday Dec. 29. 

The Caribou drive-thru will be located at the intersection of Northeast Lake Drive and Hornsby, north of the new Love’s Travel Plaza. 

Council member Shelly Logren dissented on the vote because Caribou’s final proposal of a drive-thru only building with outdoor patio seating is not what she initially thought was proposed. 

“I just really have a problem with that. I don’t think it fits in with what we had envisioned for that corner,” Logren said, explaining that she envisioned a coffee shop in which patrons could sit down to visit with neighbors or do business work.

When she first heard of the Caribou proposal, she thought it would be a full-service store offering indoor seating, and added that community members expressed support for a coffee shop like that. 

“I do think the downfall (is) there’s not a place to sit. … A lot of people have brought that up to me, but it’s still a benefit to have a Caribou in our town,” Council member Robert Busch said regarding Logren’s comments. 

Council member Janet Hegland visited a different Caribou drive-thru location to better understand how it would look and was surprised about how large 600 square feet is. 

“I was actually surprised the building looked bigger in person than what I would have thought. … I know there was some concern that it would look like a little kiosk kind of poking out but it actually did not,” Hegland said.

Paul Guidera, the director of real estate for Caribou Coffee, explained the current trend of drive-thru only locations increasing for their company and the coffee industry. 

“It’s the trend of where the coffee business is going,” Guidera said, adding each of their new drive-thru locations follows the same design. 

Of the 25 new Caribou locations the company has built this past year, 20 of them are drive-thru locations, according to Guidera. 

“I really do think that it’s not a deficit to have it that size, because I think you’re right. I mean, it is the way that things are going,” Wagamon said, adding she understands Logren’s point too. 

Guidera explained that the drive-thru concept allows customers to receive their order within three minutes after ordering, which is why they think this location along the highway corridor will be an asset to the city. 

Since it is a drive-thru only facility, Logren called the ordinance into question on whether or not this type of coffee shop with no seating is allowed in this area of the city under new ordinances. 

City Attorney Bill Griffith said that distinction of whether or not this follows the ordinance is up to the council to determine, but he and the city administrator’s office agreed it is permissible.

“I don’t think we should be saying no to this simply because it’s the first thing going in and it doesn’t sort of meet that vision. There’s still plenty of opportunity for that vision to be realized,” Hegland said.

Following the approval of the initial Caribou site plan, Mayor Jesse Preiner asked Guidera what their construction schedule may look like. 

Guidera responded that they are hopeful to break ground in April and to open the facility in mid-September or early October. 

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