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Sweet Caribou Opens Airport Location

by | Jun 12, 2024 | Featured, News, Retail, Small Business

Signature macarons, in addition to fresh salads and sandwiches, can now be found between C and B concourses in the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport main terminal.

Sweet Caribou

Sweet Caribou, known for delectable macarons, has been on a path of growth since starting out at a farmer’s market ten years ago. Cruising into a decade of deliciousness, the shop opened a second location, greeting travelers with sweets. The newest eatery in Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport is the Sweet Caribou between the B and C concourses.

Fresh Food, Fast

Sweet Caribou opened the airport outlet on June 4. “We’re really excited to provide people coming through the airport another option, both for our customers that are familiar with us, and for people traveling from out of state, to give them some other options as well,” Sweet Caribou owner James Strong says.

Part of the draw of Sweet Caribou is that it’s fast food, fresh. Sandwiches and salads are made and packaged every morning, Strong says.

“We do make everything up ahead of time. People are busy nowadays; they want something quick, but they want a quality product,” Strong says.

The pre-made aspect lends itself well to providing airport fare, since opening the new location is really about scaling up, rather than opening a second kitchen. Salads, sandwiches, macarons, and drinks are delivered to the airport every morning. That location will operate with expanded hours, remaining open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

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“We wanted to be available for those people coming in late,” Strong says of the longer hours.

Macarons have been a cornerstone of Sweet Caribou’s business. Strong says he sends staff to Paris once a year for additional training, to keep skills honed and be on the lookout for new ideas.

“Things kind of took off a little unexpectedly,” says Strong of those early farmer’s market days.

The business is about more than macarons, however. Grab-and-go salads that blend sweet with savory, like the Big Lake Blueberry that mixes greens with chicken, macadamia nuts, and goat cheese and tops it with strawberries and blueberries, are popular, and so are the sandwiches, which pack a punch of flavor into ciabatta rolls or sliced wheat bread.

The airport location is currently being operated on a first-come, first-served basis—when the salads and sandwiches run out, they’re out until the next restock. Strong says it might take a little time to get the feel of how the airport traffic differs from the main location on 36th Avenue, but he’s confident his crew will figure out the rhythm quickly.

The jump from one location to two required a significant step up in staffing. Strong says he partnered with another vendor at the airport to work out how to run the location. Scaling up has meant adding at least ten new employees to staff the airport location and nearly that many additional employees for Sweet Caribou, from delivery drivers to people making the extra food being delivered to the airport each morning.

With the jump in staffing, there’s an airport upcharge: instead of the $16 standard for salads and sandwiches at Sweet Caribou’s main location, the airport fare rings up at $17.75, a reflection of the higher cost of doing business there, Strong says. But, like at the Midtown location, all food items come with a free water. At the airport, where a bottle of water generally starts at $3, it evens out, Strong says.

Strong says the airport location will be open 363 days a year.

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Best of Alaska Business 2024
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Welcome to the 2024 Best of Alaska Business special section! For the ninth time we invited our readers to tell us which Alaska businesses they love the most, this year in forty-four categories. Throughout the month of March, you told us who should be featured in these pages, and we're thrilled to be able to publish the results.
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