Panera Bread, the national bakery, sandwich and soup chain has opened
will open this week in Santa Rosa.
It’s pretty much what you’d expect from a national chain-type fast-food/cafe soup, salad and bread eatery. Good sandwiches. Tasty soups. Creative salads. Yummy cookies and breakfasty-stuff (croissants to mini souffles). Starbucks-esque interior with a cozy little enclosed fire and lots of windows.
You can go healthy (the chain has long been praised for its “healthy” options) or really pack on the calories. Best bets: You Pick Two. Pair a half sammie and salad or soup for about $8. The Thai Chopped Chicken is a hefty bowl of chicken, romaine, cashews, edamame, carrots and other goodies in a Thai Chili Vinaigrette. Yum. French onion soup was solid.
The building went up quickly in the former CVS parking lot at the corner of Steele and Mendocino — in a sort of newly minted Golden Triangle of fash food chains (Five Guys, In N Out, possible Chik-fil-A) off the Steele Lane exit of Highway 101.
Interestingly (and maybe I just noticed this), Target has started carrying a line of Panera food items including dressings, dips and spreads. Like the restaurant (which is owned by St. Louis Bread Company), they’re well-researched to fit American food-profiles.
Meanwhile, the Baja Fresh in the nearby Safeway Shopping Center has, we heard, permanently shuttered. It’s not a huge surprise, considering the wealth of cheaper and better Mexican food nearby (Taqueria Santa Rosa, La Palapa, Jalisco) and the overwhelming popularity of it’s two neighbors — Five Guys and Panda Express.
Are you welcoming Panera with open arms. Or giving them the royal raspberry.