Panera replacing longtime Butler County location with standalone restaurant

Construction on a new Panera Bread at 5875 Dixie Highway in Fairfield started last month. The restaurant is expected to be completed sometime in early 2021. The store will be in front of Shared Harvest Foodbank, which sold part of its land on Ohio 4 for development. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF

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Construction on a new Panera Bread at 5875 Dixie Highway in Fairfield started last month. The restaurant is expected to be completed sometime in early 2021. The store will be in front of Shared Harvest Foodbank, which sold part of its land on Ohio 4 for development. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF

Panera Bread is working to bring a new standalone location to Butler County to replace a longtime, smaller restaurant.

The project at 5875 Dixie Highway, in front of Shared Harvest food bank, was set to open in November but has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Danielle Covelli, marketing manager for Covelli Enterprises.

“We don’t have a new date set in stone, but it will most likely be (the) beginning of 2021,” Covelli told the Journal-News.

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The restaurant will replace an existing location at 500 Kolb Drive that has been open since 2000, she said.

“We are relocating to offer a better experience for our customers,” Covelli said.

That location will include a drive thru and various aspects of Panera 2.0, including ordering kiosks, delivery, curbside and rapid pick-up, she said.

“Panera 2.0 is a series of integrated technologies to enhance the guest experience for all consumers no matter how they choose to use Panera,” Covelli said. “Panera 2.0 brings together new capabilities for digital ordering, payment, operations and, ultimately, consumption to create an enhanced guest experience for to-go and eat-in customers.”

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The location will create 35 new jobs, giving it more than 60 employee in all: 55 associates, four managers and two bakers. Hiring will take place closer to the opening date, she said.

Greg Kathman, Fairfield’s development services director, said that it’s always good to see new investment in the Ohio 4 corridor.

“We are very confident this will prove to be a successful location for Panera,” Kathman said. “The project also contains another development-ready pad that we think will be attractive for another business, as well.”

Covelli said the overall estimated cost of the project was unavailable.

Headquartered in Warren, Ohio, Covelli Enterprises operates 315 Panera Bread bakery-cafés in eight states and is the single-largest Panera Bread franchisee. By the end of last year there were 2,178 bakery-cafes in 48 states and in Ontario, Canada, operating under the Panera Bread or Saint Louis Bread Co. names.

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