Louisville, Ky.(WDRB TV Fox 41)--A well-known national franchise chain continues to add stores in the Louisville area. It is hoped that the latest Panera Bread store will attract other businesses to a new shopping complex.
"The company is actually experiencing one of its better years since Panera became Panera," says Louisville joint venture partner Archie Karel.
Monday was the first day of business at the newest Panera Bread store in Louisville, located in the new Brownsboro Point development on Brownsboro Road next to the Watterson Expressway.
Panera Bread joins the Fresh Market, which opened earlier this year on the site, which for many years was an old hotel. It was razed to make way for the shopping complex. It's the eighth Panera location in Louisville and the company came here because of its good location next to the Watterson.
"We've been looking in this area, the Indian Hills area for a long time," says Karel. "We are at a busy corner at a stoplight and our morning customers can get in and out quickly and get to work."
Molly Randolph is glad to see Panera open. She is the manager of the Great Clips Hair Salon which moved into Brownsboro Point a month ago. "Panera will bring a lot of awareness to the area, and that is what we need, awareness," says Randolph.
She says business has been good but she would like to see more stores move into the complex and fill-up some of the vacant storefronts. "We've heard that there are a couple of opportunities coming," says Randolph, "we are not sure who they are but we know the owners are pushing to get more retailers out here."
Sheryl Kreiger brought her two kids there for haircuts after noticing the new shopping center for the first time as she drove down Brownsboro Road. "I think it's very nice, it's a very convenient location,"says Kreiger, "I think it looks like there are opportunities for a lot of nice stores that will go in here, I think it's going to bring great businesses to the area."
The owners of the development, the James Group, tell Fox 41 News, that they have recently changed leasing agents and although several businesses have expressed interest, no new stores have yet decided to move in.
But those already there say it's just a matter of time. "We expect those to eventually fill in, we think with Panera here and Fresh Market before us, this center becomes a very attractive location," says Karel.
Meanwhile plans are already in the works for the ninth Panera in the Louisville area to open in June along Bardstown Road in the old Ear-X-tacy locations.