BY BRIAN KRONOWITZ
The new Panera Bread in the Wedgewood Commons Shopping Center at 3500 SE Federal Highway has officially opened for business.
The 4,400-square-foot bakery and café is a free-standing restaurant with a drive-thru window. It is Panera Bread’s new prototype as the company hopes future locations will be built in the same style.
Sailfish Point resident Albert Covelli and his daughter and son-in-law own and operate over 200 Panera Bread locations in five states and Canada. Covelli is also building a restaurant in Tradition in Port St. Lucie.
This is Stuart’s second Panera Bread, and locals are elated by the location.
“This is a great addition to the area,” said Bryan Olson who lives in Port St. Lucie and works in Stuart. “It gives me another option during my lunch break opposed to the traditional, greasy, junk food places.”
The restaurant is next door to McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Arby’s. The location use to be occupied by Jersey Diner, which went of out business in late 2011.
“It will be interesting to see how Panera Bread does right next door to all of these fast food chains,” said Olson. “People usually pull off of U.S. 1 and get a quick bite to eat on the go, but Panera Bread is more of a sit-down type of place just like Jersey Diner.”