Dover Panera Bread set to open in September


Two workers on a lift work the construction of the new Panera Bread in Dover. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — The foundation has been laid and the framework is quickly taking shape on the newest addition to Dover’s culinary landscape.

A Panera Bread restaurant is currently under construction at 545 N. DuPont Highway, on the north side of the Capital Commons shopping center that includes Burlington and Big Lots stores, in front of the Towne Point development.

The highly anticipated opening of the Panera Bread in Dover is expected to take place in early September, according to city of Dover officials.

“I’m sure there are people who are really looking forward to the opening of Panera Bread,” said Dave Hugg, acting Dover city planner. “It seems to be a very popular restaurant and a very good addition to the restaurant mix that we have in town.”

When completed, the 4,986-square-foot restaurant will be located on a 37,341-square-foot pad site at Capital Commons. The property is located on the east side of North DuPont Highway north of Townsend Boulevard.

The Panera Bread menu will include sandwiches, fresh-baked breads, soups, salads, breakfast and will feature a bakery-café on site.

The St. Louis-based restaurant chain currently has more than 2,000 bakery-cafes in the United States and Canada and promotes itself as serving food that does not contain artificial preservatives, flavors or sweeteners and colors from artificial sources.

“It will be nice to have some healthy options and not have to drive north during lunch,” said Tamra Price-Callaway. “I hope it survives temperamental Dover.”

Ron Shaich, founder, chairman and CEO of Panera, said in a letter on the company’s website that serving fresh healthy food is something he takes personally.

“We all have a choice: Be part of the solution or be part of the problem,” Mr. Shaich wrote. “We at Panera want to be part of the solution; that’s why I got into this business. I see no better way to make a positive difference than by fueling the 10 million people we serve each week with food that’s simply good and is also good for you.

“For me, this work is deeply personal. I want to serve you food that I want to eat myself and serve to my own children. I want to wake up every morning optimistic about the direction our food system is headed. I want to see our country get healthier and stronger by experiencing the joy of good eating.”

Panera Bread currently features six locations in Delaware, but the future one in Dover will be the only one located in Kent County.

That’s a relief to many Panera Bread aficionados — which appears to be many.

“I think Panera is a great option for Dover,” Jen Schiller said. “I frequent them often in Wilmington and the beach.”

Gerry Wright agreed.

“Yes, good and unique on-the-go menu, great value and always nice to have convenient options,” he said.

For many, the addition of another healthier-option culinary choice in Dover was a long time coming.

“Been waiting for Panera since I moved back (to Dover) five years ago,” said Angela Perry.

Linda Deaton summed up hers — and many others — thoughts succinctly on Thursday.

“Cannot wait!,” she said.

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