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Covelli Enterprises, Caribou Coffee ink coffeehouse deal

WARREN — Already the largest franchise operator of Panera Bread restaurants and one of the largest restaurant franchisees in the U.S., Covelli Enterprises in Warren is growing with the addition of Caribou Coffee to its lineup.

The companies on Tuesday announced they signed a domestic franchise development agreement, touting it as the largest deal of its kind for the Minnesota-based coffee company that has more than 750 coffeehouses across the globe.

Sam Covelli, CEO of Covelli Enterprises and his three children, Candace, Albert and Danielle, plan to open more than 100 coffeehouses across northern Ohio, western Pennsylvania and Florida, including Orlando and along the East Coast from West Palm Beach to Miami.

The first location is expected to open later this year on the Ohio Turnpike at the Glacier Hills Plaza in New Springfield. Other plans include a freestanding location with a drive-thru at the beginning of 2024 on Boardman Canfield Road near the Covelli-owned Panera Bread in Canfield.

Covelli Enterprises also is looking at potential locations in Boardman, Austintown and Warren.

“When I was first approached by Panera Brands to become involved in Caribou Coffee, I was intrigued, especially since the coffee industry is continuing to see unbelievable growth,” said Sam Covelli. “After visiting Caribou coffee houses, speaking with their leadership team, and tasting the quality of their products, it became obvious that Caribou is the future of the coffee industry.”

Caribou Coffee is part of the Panera Brands portfolio as is Panera Bread and Bagel Brands.

Founded in 1992, Caribou Coffee expanded its franchise program in October 2021, marking the first time interested candidates had an opportunity to own and operate traditional franchise locations in the U.S. The company recently announced several domestic franchise development agreements to open more than 300 franchise locations domestically.

When expanding the program, the goal was to align with franchise partners that shared the same vision, said Matthew Walls, chief development officer at Caribou Coffee.

Covelli Enterprises fit the bill.

“Sam Covelli and his team are sophisticated operators with a passion for their teams and guests, and we are proud to build on our shared values and bring the Caribou Coffee brand to new markets together,” Walls said.

Through March, Caribou Coffee has 330 company-owned, 141 non-traditional and 294 traditional franchise locations in 11 countries.

Covelli Enterprises operates nearly 300 Panera Bread bakery / cafes in eight states.

Earlier this year, the company made Ohio’s Major Employers list, the only Mahoning Valley-based company to make the top 100. Ranking at No. 46, the company has an estimated 7,100 employees, according to the state.

Covelli Enterprises got its start in 1959, when the late, Albert Covelli opened his first McDonalds franchise in Warren. The company grew to become the largest franchisee of the fast-food restaurant, but Albert and his son, Sam, took the company in a different direction toward Panera in 1997.

The company also owns O’Charley’s Restaurants and Dairy Queens. Most recently, Covelli opened its first Oath Pizza on the Ohio Turnpike in 2020.

rselak@tribtoday.com

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