Panera Bread Coming to Olive Branch

Jan 17, 2012

Commercial Appeal

By Toni Lepeska

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Panera Bread, a national chain of bakeries and cafés headquartered in St. Louis, is setting its sights on Olive Branch in a commercial area that's one of the city's hotbeds for growth.

The restaurant, which touts specialty breads and pastries and a soup-salad-sandwich menu, is tentatively expected to open in May at the former John Daly's restaurant site by Kroger.

Representatives have submitted building plans to renovate the front of the building, according to city planning officials. The front includes open-air dining. One of the closest Panera Bread locations, in Germantown about nine miles away, includes outdoor seating.

The Kroger area along Goodman Road near U.S. 78 was recently identified by a broker as "Main and Main in Olive Branch as far as retail is concerned."

The broker, John Reed of The Shopping Center Group, handled the new Petco store going in at the shopping center. He said Kroger recently purchased extra bays and plans to expand.

"That Kroger center is a very good example where development is growing in Olive Branch," said Alderman Don Tullos, whose ward includes the commercial area. "As we get more business here, we get more business here."

This past fall, another popular commercial spot in Olive Branch became news because of additional development. Officials confirmed T.J. Maxx, Rack Room Shoes and yogurt store TCBY would be opening at Goodman and Pleasant Hill roads near Target.

Tullos said the greatest challenge for government officials is making it easy for businesses to locate in Olive Branch and making it easy for citizens to get to those businesses.

The alderman said more businesses help keep the tax burden on residential properties lower, and citizens will have the convenience of shopping and eating.

"We want businesses that complement Olive Branch," Tullos said. We're just reaching out."

Another alderman, Pat Hamilton of Ward 2, said she told her constituents about Panera Bread after receiving inquiries. She cleared up what site Panera Bread was targeting.

"I can't tell you how many people were excited and e-mailed me," she said.

Panera Bread representatives did not immediately reply to requests for additional information.