BELLEVILLE – Panera Bread  celebrated its grand opening Wednesday at their new location on Bell Boulevard.
To mark the opening, the restaurant held an invitation-only preview party on Tuesday night in honour of the Military Family Resource Centre . There also was a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a complimentary dinner.
Charles Fromentin, the general manager of Panera Bread restaurant in Belleville, said that lots of preparation had been done for the Tuesday night event as it is not only about the opening but about supporting the community.
“We are quietly involved in the community. Leftovers at the end of the evening will be donated to Gleaners Food Bank … and in light of the recent events … around the Ottawa shooting and the military, we felt it prudent to sort of reach out and support military in the very hard time” the manager said.
All food during the night was free, but guests were asked to donate to the MFRC.
Tamara Kleinschmidt, executive director of MRFC, said that all money that were raised will by used by the centre.
“We have a wide variety of programs, and right now we are making investments in our children programs … and specifically focusing in a francophone program. We are hoping to really ramp those programs up for January; so the money couldn’t be coming at the better time” she said.
Taso Christopher, newly elected mayor of Belleville, attended the grand opening along with some other councillors and public figures. He said that Panera Bread has a good track record and congratulated the franchise with the opening.
“I think this is fantastic, just this location, the ambiance, the fabric; it’s also bringing between 45 to 50 new jobs. Let’s say it’s a great news for the City of Belleville. Any type of small business operation is a step forward for the City of Belleville. We look forward to more partnerships with the business like this” the new mayor said.
Throughout their opening week, the restaurant will give away travel mugs, and there will be free coffee refill until the end of the month to the first 250 customers daily. The mugs will be available in store and through the restaurant’s drive-through.
Panera Bread is a chain of bakery-cafe restaurants founded in 1981 in the United States. In 2008, Panera Bread expanded into Canada, with openings in Richmond Hill, Thornhill, Oakville and Mississauga. As of this year, the company owns 1,845 bakery-cafes in North America, including 14 locations in Ontario.