Caribou Coffee is the latest bakery-café chain to upgrade its food offerings.

The Minneapolis-based chain, which operates more than 360 restaurants, has introduced three lunch sandwiches nationwide in the second phase of its three-phase menu upgrade. The new sandwiches are priced at around $4.99 and include:


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• Ham & Gruyère Pretzel Roll: Roasted Black Forest ham with Austrian Gruyère cheese, served on a pretzel roll spread with Dijon mustard

• Roast Turkey Ciabatta: Oven-roasted turkey breast with mozzarella and aïoli pesto spread, served on a sundried tomato-basil ciabatta

• Turkey Brie Pepper Jam on Baguette: Oven-roasted turkey breast with Brie cheese and pepper jam, served on a baguette roll.

Turkey Brie Pepper Jam on BaguetteIn February, Caribou introduced a new line of sweet and savory premium baked goods. The chain plans to launch the third phase of its menu upgrade in August.

The new sandwiches are also part of a broader shift in the offerings available at many bakery-café chains both at breakfast and lunch.

Caribou’s sister chain Peet’s Coffee & Tea now also offers premium sandwiches in northern California, its largest market. Au Bon Pain has introduced a Sesame Ginger Chicken Salad and Chicken Wasabi Wrap for the spring, as well as a Carrot Ginger Soup and desserts including Raspberry Rugelach, macaroons and a croissant-sweet roll hybrid called the CroisBun.

Einstein Bros. Bagels introduced a Honey Smoked Salmon sandwich that it offers at breakfast and lunch, as well as a premium breakfast sandwich and a lower-calorie “Thintastic” bagel.

Dunkin’ Donuts recently added a Sliced Turkey Breakfast Sandwich to its menu, as well as an Eggs Benedict Breakfast Sandwich.

Starbucks earlier this year added three new breakfast sandwiches, bringing its offerings in that category up to eight — not to mention its recent announcement to offer beer and wine at more locations.

Last year, overall traffic in the lunch daypart shrank nationwide by 1 percent, according to The NPD Group. However, breakfast was the fastest growing daypart in 2013, with a 3-percent increase in traffic, according to NPD. The only other daypart that showed traffic growth was the afternoon snack, which had 1 percent more visits in 2013 compared to 2012.

Contact Bret Thorn at bret.thorn@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary