Panera eyes November opening

Published 8:54 pm Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Panera Bread plans to open its first Hampton Roads drive-through eatery on North Main Street in this shopping center currently under construction. The restaurant should be open by the end of November, a company representative said.

Panera Bread’s second Suffolk location is on track to be open by late next month, a company representative said this week.

“We are thrilled to be opening a bakery-café in such a dynamic area,” said Cori Lintner, local marketing manager for the restaurant.

The restaurant’s suite in the new shopping center under construction on North Main Street recently was turned over to the company for build-out. Other buildings in the center, which will host a Sleepy’s mattress store and Alltel and AT&T wireless companies, are still in the earlier stages of construction.

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Lintner said the Panera Bread restaurant will be the first drive-through Panera in Hampton Roads. The concept has been tried in other markets, she said.

“You can get your favorite Panera sandwich without getting out of your car,” she said.

The company already has 11 restaurants in Hampton Roads, including the one on College Drive in North Suffolk. Lintner said the company believes the two Suffolk restaurants will serve different clientele because of their distance from one another.

“We feel like we’ll get two different groups of folks,” she said. “We are looking forward to offering the many business professionals, families and students in the Suffolk community fresh and wholesome food choices, paired with the convenient service their busy schedules demand.”

The restaurant will employ about 50 people, Lintner said.

The new location also will participate in the company’s community service initiatives, including Day-End Dough-Nation and Community Breadbox.

Through Day-End Dough-Nation, all unsold bread and baked goods are donated at the end of each day to local hunger relief agencies. The restaurants annually donate more than $100 million worth of unsold products, according to Lintner.

In addition, customers can make cash donations at restaurants, which are then matched by the company and distributed to Feeding America and its local affiliates through the Community Breadbox program.

The North Suffolk restaurant already is a Partner-in-Education with Nansemond Parkway Elementary School, Lintner said, and she expects the new North Main Street restaurant to be similarly involved.

The new shopping center where Panera Bread will be located is being built on the site of the old health department building, 1217 N. Main St. Suffolk Economic Development Director Kevin Hughes said he has seen “good traffic as it relates to other interested parties on the available space.”