Panera Bread looks to break ground in B.R. by June
A long-planned Panera Bread franchise in Baton Rouge is nearing fruition, says franchisee Tom Krings, who estimates a Corporate Boulevard land lease will be completed in the next 30 days and construction will begin in about two months. "We think we're on the final leg," Krings says. "We're as anxious as anyone else to get things rolling down there. Unfortunately, at this point, we don't have an anticipated opening date." The Baton Rouge location, which is planned to be built next to MidSouth Bank, will be the first Panera Bread in Louisiana. Krings, who has 19 Panera Bread franchises in Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina, says he would eventually like to see Baton Rouge with two franchises and several others throughout south Louisiana. "In the next two to three years, I'd like to see about 15 locations in the area, between Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles and the New Orleans area," he says. Based in St. Louis and founded in 1981, Panera Bread has more than 1,500 restaurants in 40 states. According to industry analyst Technomic, Panera Bread revenue grew 10.1% in 2011, with sales of $3.3 billion, making the café-bakery chain one of the fastest growing in the country. A planned Baton Rouge location was first reported back in November 2010. —Steve Sanoski
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