Caribou Coffee CEO sees 100 new stores in Atlanta

Tattersfield, the Minneapolis-based chief executive of the country's second-largest gourmet coffee retailer, says he expects Atlanta to be a major growth market in the near future, with the potential for 100 locations in the metro region in the next five to ten years.

Caribou has 11 locations in the Atlanta market now, and might consider working with franchisees, a relative rarity, to make the rapid growth happen.

"Atlanta is a great market. I have a lot of faith in it," Tattersfield said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "It's not a big store base right now. But Atlanta is really our anchor for expansion in the southeast of the United States."

Tattersfield wants Caribou to make deeper inroads into grocery stores such as Kroger and Publix. Caribou Coffee is now sold in almost 8,000 stores including Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's and Bed bath & Beyond.

Expanding in Atlanta is the key to spreading deeper into "SEC territory" such as northern Florida, as well as expansion in Raleigh, Charlotte and Chapel Hill, Tattersfield said. "We need to fill out those markets," he said.

Since taking the helm of Caribou Coffee in August 2008, Tattersfield has pushed the chain to expand into oatmeal and breakfast sandwiches to round out its menu. It is testing a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch, primarily in Minnesota and Chicago, and might consider expanding its brunch options with stuffed croissants or quiche.

In Atlanta, Caribou is dwarfed by Starbucks, which lists more than two dozen locations in Atlanta. McDonald's, with 35 restaurants in the Atlanta market, also has a rejuvenated coffee and beverage lineup that is driving much of its growth.

Tattersfield, who once competed against McDonald's as president of A&W All-American Food Restaurants, is well aware of the Golden Arches' heft. But Caribou's customers a looking for something different when they come into the log cabin-themed coffee shops, he said.

"We know our brand can compete well against larger competitors," he said.