End of an Era

Posted on 28 November 2012

Last night, I met my writing buddies at Caribou, the coffee shop that served as our main writing and meeting spot for years. We were there for the grand send off: Last night was this location’s final hours of business. As of today, its doors are closed for good.

For years, whether in the heat of summer or with snow up to my calves, I’d leave my apartment and walk over the Detroit Avenue bridge toward Caribou. That cafe is where I wrote large portions of my novel-in-progress OPAL. It’s where I wrote the Living Arrangements title story and where I revised, in some form, every story that appears in my collection. At Caribou’s tables, I pored over proofs of my book, wrote and revised Poets & Writers articles, answered author Q&As, wrote new stories, and dreamed up new ideas.

For a chain coffee shop, this particular Caribou location always felt homey — the baristas remembered I liked my tea in a mug, the other customers were friendly and, as last night’s crowded send-off proved, my writing buddies and I weren’t the only group of regulars by a long shot.

If I sound a little sentimental about a coffee shop, just know that this place was a cornerstone not only for my own growth and progress as a writer, but also for the friendship my writing buddies and I cultivated. During our tenure together at Caribou, Jennifer, Huda, and I cheered each other on, commiserated over rejection, and celebrated milestones in both our writing lives and our personal lives — including everything from journal and anthology acceptances to marriage, grants won and lost, new babies, a book publication, and more.

And yes, I took photos on that last night. This place has too much history not to.

Do you have a Caribou of your own?


11 responses to End of an Era

  • Paul Lamb says:

    Nope, no special places, though I guess my cabin in the woods would be the closest.

    I can’t write with distractions, and a coffee shop would be an overload of them for me.

    But I suspect you’ll find some place new.

    • I’d say your cabin definitely counts!

      It’s true there are no shortage of cafes where I live, and there are a few independent coffee shops in particular that I favor. But Caribou’s location in relation to our homes, plus its hours, worked best for the three of us. But yes, we will continue to meet and adjust to new writing spots.

  • Sarah W says:

    I have a particular Panera I like to go to when I take a writing day—there are a couple of other regular writers and grad students there and though we’re not officially a group, we all tend to gravitate to the area nearest the refill stations.

    We share wall outlets and watch each other’s stuff during snack attacks and potty breaks. It’s a safe place.

  • Teri says:

    Oh no. We had Caribou in my Minneapolis neighborhood, and it was THE place. I missed it when we left. And now I’m sad to hear they are disappearing ….

  • Erika Marks says:

    Oh no!!! I love Caribou cafes–and I REALLY love their coffee. Seriously love. It’s shade-grown and friendly and it has a fantastic taste. I’m so sorry to hear they’re losing a spot and especially sorry to hear YOU’RE losing a place of comfort and energy and friends. The closest thing we have here is our Trader Joe’s. We go to see friends who work there as much as to get our week’s groceries. And they do offer coffee samples;)

    • Teri says:

      It’s so funny you say that, Erika. My Brazilian friend, a true coffee connosseur, claims Caribou is FAR better than Starbucks whom she says “burns their beans.” I have to agree. For a chain, Caribou is the best.

      • There are still plenty of Caribou locations in Cleveland — including two within just a couple of miles on either side of this one — so it stinks that the one to close is “our” Caribou. But we will move on.

  • Catherine says:

    How sad to lose a place like this! I thought I had a hang-out but went to revise there last week – and the music just killed my brain. I’ve yet to find a quiet and productive environment, though I would love to find some writer mates.. Not easy here as they all live in Florence or Roma!

  • Josephine says:

    so sorry your spot is no longer.

    every morning at my last job, i’d walk through my regular coffee spot into the connecting independent bookstore to give me steam to make it through my day.

    most of the baristas knew my high-maintenance order so i wouldn’t have to say it out loud most mornings. they’d just say, “Usual?” and i would nod.

    my new gig is no where near my coffee spot. it makes me sad (and, unfortunately, i still need steam to make it though the day). some days i say fuck it and go the extra 20 minutes out of my way just to get my usual order and feel the comfort of it.

  • Dawn. says:

    Aw that’s too bad your local Caribou is closing. I used to work at one of my local Caribous and I love their coffee. So much better than Starbucks. I could never write there (too much distraction) but if it paid better I would totally go back to working there.

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