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Caribou Coffee closed doors for good in December

The building owner hopes a restaurant will take Caribou's place.

Caribou Coffee recently closed its West Franklin Street location. The shop on East Franklin Street is still open.
Caribou Coffee recently closed its West Franklin Street location. The shop on East Franklin Street is still open.

Caribou Coffee Company closed its West Franklin Street location in December to divert business to the East Franklin Street Caribou, Gwyn said.

“The store was doing quite well when they opened it, but a lot of their customers started going to the one down on Estes because it has parking and is more convenient,” he said.

Gwyn said he’s still looking for a business to lease the space Caribou once occupied, but he’s had several inquiries and is confident about the prospects.

“I’m sure somebody will come along with a good idea,” he said. “The sooner the better for everyone. Nobody wants a dark space.”

He said one such promising bid wanted to turn the space into a barbecue restaurant but failed to secure appropriate financial backing.

“You don’t want something that students can’t afford,” he said.

Gwyn said he’s looking for a restaurant to occupy the space.

“I’d like to see a place come in that offers what students want and isn’t really expensive,” he said. “The space lends itself to a business that can thrive on a pedestrian orientation. Hopefully it’ll be successful and stay there a long time and serve the students.”

Gwyn said construction on Franklin Street also took away from the foot traffic — Caribou’s main source of clientele.

“A lot of people started to cross the street to avoid the construction,” he said.

Caribou customers said they would miss the shop’s proximity to campus.

After close to two decades of meeting weekly to speak French in the warm, cozy atmosphere of the West Franklin Caribou, the UNC Francophiles will have to find a new space for gatherings.

The coffee shop closed its doors on Dec. 14 after 18 years in its 110 W. Franklin St. location.

Daniel Pinelli, president of the UNC Francophiles, said the group will be hard-pressed to find a meeting space to replace Caribou.

“The biggest thing was the coffee shop ambiance,” he said. “It was a great place to sit and chat for an hour. There were plenty of large tables and chairs to pull up if more people came.”

He said Caribou holds a certain sentimental value for the members of the club.

“I went to the very last meeting they had at Caribou, and one of the regulars was passing around a photo of the club from 1996, sitting around the fireplace in Caribou,” he said. “We took our own photo to sort of mark the occasion.”

UNC senior Nate Dove said he’s dismayed that Caribou is added to the list of businesses that have closed on Franklin Street recently.

“It makes me depressed because it’s just another empty building on Franklin Street,” he said. “Like three things have closed on Franklin Street recently — by the end of the year there won’t be anything here.”

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