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Since You Asked: Panera Bread on track for early 2023 opening

I am wondering about an update on Panera Bread.

— Katy G., via email

You’re not the only one, Katy. The opening of the new store is one of the hot topics in the Since You Asked inbox.

We can now report that Panera Bread is expected to open its doors in Medford around February or March of 2023.

Josh Thompson, chief operating officer of Manna Development Group, the franchisee of Panera Bread, confirmed the news Friday, two years after the company announced it would set up shop at the corner of Highway 99 and Garfield Street.

“I would tell (customers) thanks for their patience, and we’re really, really excited to bring Panera to them,” Thompson said.

Panera Bread was set to open in Medford earlier this year, but supply chain issues stemming from the pandemic and other economic issues delayed the project.

Brent Hackwell, CEO of KOGAP, the restaurant’s builder, said earlier this year it was “one of the most challenging times” he’d ever seen in the construction industry, with extended delays for heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment, which set back other parts of the project, including the roof.

But this week, Hackwell reported that KOGAP is on schedule for completion of the building shell this fall. All the necessary pieces for the project have either arrived or are in the process of being shipped, he said.

Medford’s Panera Bread will be “the next generation” of store types, according to Thompson.

“There are not many of them — it will be one of the first in the country,” he said.

Even though Panera Bread has yet to sell a single Macaroni and Cheese Sandwich in Medford, the company already is on the lookout for managers of the location, which is expected to employ 50 to 75 people.

“We love Medford,” said Thompson, who noted he has a friend who lives here. “It’s certainly grown over the years, and we think it’s a great opportunity for a Panera, that’s for sure.”

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com.