Mar 4, 2022 - Food and Drink

The rise of seatless coffee huts in the Twin Cities

A scooters coffe hut
Photo: Wm. Glasheen/USA Today Network-Wisconsin

Coffee chains are building drive-thru coffee shops in Twin Cities suburbs, souped-up versions of the coffee huts and kiosks you might see on the West Coast.

What's happening: Nebraska-based chain Scooter's is targeting Maplewood for the first two of 10 planned seatless shops in the Twin Cities, according to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business.

  • The entrance of Scooter's comes on the heels of Brooklyn Center-based Caribou Coffee's launch of its seatless "Cabin" concept. Caribou opened its 11th Cabin in Fridley, in August.

Driving the news: Scooter's and Caribou Cabins were around before COVID-19, but the pandemic has led to an uptick in drive-thru heavy restaurants nationally, with the Twin Cities at the center of some of that experimentation.

  • Taco Bell is rolling out a prototype four-lane drive-thru concept called Taco Bell Defy in Brooklyn Park.
  • Shake Shack opened its first-ever drive-thru in the country in Maple Grove in November.

Yes, but: Not everyone loves drive-thrus. A Starbucks on St. Paul's Snelling Avenue snarled traffic and prompted neighborhood complaints.

  • Baristas threatened to walk off the job over a traffic cop and now Starbucks is going to remove the drive-thru and build a patio, according to the Pioneer Press.
  • And Minneapolis has banned the opening of new drive-thrus in the city, citing pollution, noise and safety concerns for pedestrians.
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