Richland’s new Panera Bread ready for customers

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A chain restaurant known for its fresh bakery items, soups and sandwiches soon will be open for business at the corner of Queensgate Drive and Duportail Street in Richland.

Construction on the 5,000-square-foot Panera bakery-café, which will feature a drive-through window, began earlier this year in the Vintner Square development, which is anchored by the Richland Target.

The restaurant will be across the street from Target adjacent to Kentucky Fried Chicken.

In the past 35 years, Panera has grown from one 400-square-foot cookie store into an enterprise with more than 2,000 bakery-cafés in 46 states and in Ontario, Canada, 100,000 associates and annual system-wide sales of more than $5 billion.

In July, Panera was acquired by JAB Holding Co., ending its 26-year run as a public company.

Panera Bread announced Nov. 8 that it entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Au Bon Pain Holding Co, parent company of Au Bon Pain. The Boston-based bakery-café chain has 304 units worldwide and will be part of Panera’s initiative to intensify growth in new real estate channels, including hospitals, universities, transportation centers and urban locations, among others. Terms of the transaction, which is expected to close during the fourth quarter, were not disclosed.

The Richland building will look similar to the MOD Pizza-Mattress Firm complex on Duportail.

Vandervert Construction of Spokane was the general contractor.

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