SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – PR Restaurants, the leading franchisee of Panera Bread in New England, has announced its newest Panera Bakery-Café in downtown Springfield.
The visionaries behind this endeavor, Paul Picknelly and Fran Cataldo, the developers of the very first Panera Bread bakery-café in Springfield, are excited to bring another iconic Panera location to the city.
A groundbreaking for the building was held Thursday. At the event, 22News talked to Leo Florian, President of the South End Citizens Council about this new development in the community, “Not too long ago, the thought of having a Starbucks and a Panera Bread in the South End of Springfield was unheard of. As of right now we have more development, more projects going on in this very small neighborhood than we’ve had in, I can’t even remember.”
The upcoming restaurant will find its home at 1179 East Columbus Avenue, nestled between the established Starbucks and Burger King. The property was previously utilized as a construction staging site for MGM Springfield. Before that, it was the site of the beloved Albano’s Italian Market and Brake King, formerly known as Bob Weiner Tire.
Chris Kelley, President & COO of MGM Springfield, expressed his warm welcome to Panera Bread in the neighborhood, stating, “Bringing this nationally known brand to the South End will no doubt enhance the overall experience for those who live, work, and visit our wonderful City. We look forward to opening day!”
Paul Picknelly shared that this restaurant addresses a need outlined in the Springfield Thunderbirds’ $126 million-dollar economic impact study, which identified a requirement for more dining options on game nights.
Jill Stortz, District Manager for PR Restaurants, LLC, explained that the choice of location was based on several factors, including the high volume of vehicles traveling along Columbus Avenue, the café’s visibility, and convenient access to Interstate 91. She expressed their excitement to become a part of the South End of Springfield. PR Restaurants/Panera Bread operates 60 Panera Bread bakery-cafes in New England, and it’s estimated that the new restaurant will create approximately 40 local jobs.
Work on the subsurface and site development will begin this fall, with the actual building construction set to commence in early spring next year. Fran Cataldo, the developer, stated that the construction is slated for completion in the fall of 2024.
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