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Construction on Highway 99 is where Medford’s Panera will go

What is all the building going on along South Pacific Highway from Garfield south?

— Margaret, via email.

That construction project in South Medford is the upcoming Stewart Meadows Village “commercial retail center” — but most people will know it for the hotly anticipated chain restaurant that will anchor the shopping center.

The site at the south corner of Highway 99 and Garfield Street will feature a Panera Bread by next year — and all the fresh and wholesome soups, salads and sandwiches for which the bakery cafe is known, according to a release we got from the franchisee and Stewart Meadows Village developer KOGAP Enterprises back in August.

Back in August, the KOGAP expected construction to begin by the end of 2021, with the restaurant being the first building to be completed in the construction project.

We don’t have any updates yet as to whether the project’s progress is on schedule. Email messages this past week to KOGAP and franchisee Manna Development Group went unreturned this week.

If you’ve never been, the chain restaurant based in Susnet Hills, Missouri with more than 2,000 locations around the country is known for serving wholesome “clean” breads, soups and salads made with transparent ingredient lists and no preservatives.

The restaurant is so anticipated in the Rogue Valley, that an April Fools prankster was able to dupe hundreds of Southern Oregonians earlier this month with a Facebook page called “Panara Bread Medford” (note the spelling) with a post that simply said “Hope you’re hungry” and provided an extremely infeasible opening date of next month.

The fake post was shared 293 real times and garnered 255 real comments. The prankster — who was not affiliated with the company or its franchisee — came clean April 8 after at least one broadcast news outlet apparently picked up the story.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501 or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.