Caribe to Close Apr. 15, 2012

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

We really dug the food of St. Paul’s Caribe — see our favorable review and our coverage of their beer dinner last year. Unfortunately, good food isn’t always sufficient to keep a restaurant in business. What follows is a note from co-owner Heidi Panelli, announcing the restaurant’s closing.

“It seems like yesterday we were polling people online for name ideas for our restaurant. We opened for business with a bang in April, 2010. Then in March, 2011 light rail construction began a block away from us on University Ave. We thought we had weathered the storm when construction on our section ended in November 2011. But shortly thereafter construction resumed to the West and East of us. Now, once again, people are avoiding the University Ave. area.

In spite of the heartwarming support we’ve received from you, our customers, and continued glowing reviews in the press, the simple fact is, we can no longer endure the financial losses this construction has caused to our business and our family.

We have no choice but to close Caribe. Our last day of business will be Sunday April 15th, 2012 from 8am-2pm for brunch.

It is our hope, we can continue our dream in a more suitable location. But at this point that still remains a distant dream, as we continue to seek financing. Banks do not want to lend money to a restaurant who’s not making money, even if it’s to move to a profitable location. Watch for details, as we are going to attempt to raise money for a new location in NE Minneapolis using http://www.kickstarter.com/ We’ll post our proposed project, and anyone can then “pre-buy” meals (everything from a $5 piece of tres leeches cake, to a private party for 20, to “Mofongo of the Month club”) to fund Caribe 2.0! If we don’t reach our goal, no money changes hands (sort of like Groupon). Details coming soon…watch our Facebook page for updates: facebook.com/caribebistro

Whether or not Caribe will re-surface in the near future, the distant future, or not at all, we have no regrets. We feel incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to fulfill a dream, run our own restaurant, create jobs, bring our brand of Caribbean cooking to the area, and best of all, serve such wonderful people who have come through our door over the past two years. What an adventure it has been! We’re privileged to have been a part of the Raymond-University neighborhood, and wish continued success to our neighbors.

We want to thank our employees for hanging with us during these difficult times; we couldn’t have done this without you. We want to thank our vendors and sales reps, who by now we consider friends. Big thanks to our Facebook fans and Twitter followers for offering honest feedback – good and bad – and helping spread the word; what a great community of friends we’ve gotten to know. Big thanks, also to the Minnesota Food Bloggers, for their “foodie” support and friendship. And thanks, of course, to you, our customers, our family & friends and so many others who have made Caribe a reality.

Following this announcement, we expect an influx of “one last visit” business, so we ask that you please be patient, as service may be slower than usual (we are operating with a small staff as we wind down). In fact, it’s likely Tony will not only be your cook, but also your server! Your patience is appreciated! Reservations are always welcome and required for groups. Also, we will be open for Easter brunch.

Thank you again,

Tony & Heidi Panelli, Owners

On a side note: Gift certificates should be redeemed by April 15. If you are unable to redeem your gift certificate by April 15, please contact us to arrange for a refund.”

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James Norton

James Norton is editor and co-founder of the Heavy Table. He is also the co-author of a book about Minnesota sandwiches and the people who eat them, the co-author of a book about Wisconsin’s master cheesemakers, and a daily video blogger for CHOW. His latest book is a guide to the food and restaurants of Minneapolis and St. Paul called the Food Lovers’ Guide to the Twin Cities. Norton has written about food for Culture: The Word on Cheese, Salon, Gastronomica, Popular Science, Saveur.com, Minnesota Monthly, and City Pages (as a weekly restaurant reviewer).

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3 Comments

  1. Somebody call the Whabulance for Heidi. Please blaming the LRT is such a weak argument. I loved the food there, but blaming infrastructure upgrading for your own problems is low class.

  2. All class, Brad, all class. Anyone that’s ever owned a small business knows that the fate of that company can hinge on something like ‘infrastructure upgrading’ especially when that entails massive traffic diversion and parking ability loss. ALL the businesses on that road have taken a hit. Caribe is a great restaurant with great tasting, authentic food- hopefully Nordeast can offer a more stable location.

  3. Caribe, from my experience was notorious for not having discipline on when to be open. Three times I went there and they were either closing early or closed. A restaurant closed on Saturday at 8 pm? F******* idiotic as Chef Gordon Ramsey would say.

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