Baton Rouge's first Panera Bread could break ground this month
Though the final touches still need to be put on a lease for the land, franchisee Tom Krings says construction on Baton Rouge's first Panera Bread could begin as early as the end of this month. "The final version [of the lease] is in the landlord's hands, and we don't anticipate any more delays," says Krings, who owns 23 Panera Bread franchises and has been working to build a Baton Rouge location for years. He had originally hoped to break ground on the roughly 4,500-square-foot building last summer. "We have patiently been working our way into Baton Rouge, but the good news is there are no stumbling blocks in the way of this site as there have been at previous sites we've looked at," Krings says. As an indication of his confidence in getting the final paperwork in order to move forward with construction soon, Krings has put up a sign announcing Panera Bread's future home on the roughly 4-acre site off Jefferson Highway. It's located across the street from American Gateway Bank and neighbors the Bienville Quarters strip center that's home to the soon-to-close Imelda's Fine Shoes. If the lease deal closes by the end of the month, Krings estimates the franchise could open around February of next year. "We're already looking for a second location in Baton Rouge, and I'm looking for two locations in Lafayette," he says. "We also have two more pending sites in New Orleans and others in Harvey and Slidell." Krings opened a New Orleans location two weeks ago, and franchises in Metairie and Covington have also opened this year. His Panera Bread holdings include locations in Louisiana, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina. —Steve Sanoski
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