By HEATHER NELLIS
Recorder News Staff
TOWN OF AMSTERDAM -- Panera Bread will open Dec. 5 in the Amsterdam Commons Shopping Center on Route 30, the company announced this week.
There are hundreds of the cafes across the nation, but the one to open in town next month will be regionally unique in prototypes for a drive-thru and a heated outdoor patio area, said Dan Jouppi, Panera Bread's joint venture partner in Albany.
The demographic is smaller than the company usually pursues, Jouppi said, but was enticed by the retail corridor's tendency to draw customers from contiguous counties.
"It's a small market for us, but when we were checking out the area, we realized other communities trade in Amsterdam," Jouppi said. "Instead of focusing on a five-to-seven mile demographic, we looked 20 miles out. We think people will stop on their way up through to the Great Sacandaga Lake, and everyone who comes to shop in the area."
Town Supervisor Thomas DiMezza also hopes Panera Bread's addition to Route 30 will draw out-of-towners, whose purchases would benefit the county with sales tax dollars.
"People who normally drive off to Albany and Clifton Park can come here instead," DiMezza said. "I think some local businesses are worried, because people might sway a little bit, but they always go back to their home-grown businesses. The nice thing will be our ability to attract people from out-of-town."
The Route 30 location will be Panera Bread's first in the Capital District to feature a drive-thru, the next nearest in Vermont, Jouppi said. While most of the Panera Bread cafes feature outdoor seating for between 30 and 40 people, Amsterdam's will be the first locally to feature gas heaters to extend the outdoor dining season.
"We'll open this year with no furniture outside, but when it gets warmer in the spring, people can sit on the patio earlier than usual. For now, people can enjoy the everyday oasis we provide for people to relax and take advantage of our free Wi-fi," Jouppi said.
Fifty-five employees will be hired to operate the cafe. Jouppi said the company started hiring 10 days ago.
The 7,700 square foot box store will house Panera Bread, a second unidentified eatery, and an undisclosed retail store, according to the site plan from Benderson Development.
Panera Bread will take up 4,000 square feet of the proposed structure, according to the documents, while the retail site will take up 1,200 square feet and 2,500 square feet for the other restaurant.
According to the company's website, Panera Bread is a bakery and cafe chain that features made-to-order sandwiches, tossed-to-order salads and soup served in bread bowls, along with paninis and both sweet and savory baked goods.
The cafe will be open between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Sunday.