After weeks of rumors and speculation, it’s official: the Arlington Heights Panera is closing near the end of the month.
A Panera Bread spokeswoman confirmed the news Wednesday, although she would not specify which day will be the bakery’s last.
The bakery, at 1398 Mass. Ave., opened in 1998. After it’s gone, the four closest Paneras will be the one in Waltham at 1100 Lexington St., the two relatively new ones in Lexington Center (1684 Mass. Ave.) and Cambridge’s Porter Square (5 White St.) and the one going in at the Fresh Pond Mall in Cambridge.
Jackie Halfond, the spokeswoman and local marketing manager at Panera Bread, said the St. Louis-based company will “serve to support” the Arlington Heights employees looking to “continue with the brand.”
Here is her full statement, which was emailed to Arlington Patch Wednesday evening:
As one of Panera Bread’s oldest locations and the second market to open in Boston, the Arlington bakery-cafe has been a wonderful location for the company. The community has been very supportive of the bakery-cafe and the managers and associates have loved being a part of the neighborhood since they opened their doors in 1998.
Panera continually invests in efforts to improve and renovate bakery-cafes to ensure that their customers have the dining experience they have come (to) appreciate from the brand. Unfortunately, in some existing locations, it has been difficult to achieve the standards they believe will meet customer expectations. With the expiration of their lease, they have taken the opportunity to close the Arlington bakery-cafe for this reason. The company has been very fortunate over the past several years to open several new bakery-cafes in the surrounding communities that they believe the Arlington customers will be able to visit, including Lexington, Porter Square and very soon Cambridge-Alewife.
These cafes will also serve to support the Arlington [bakery-cafe’s] associates and managers who wish to continue with the brand.
Are you sad to see Panera go? Has the Arlington Heights location not been meeting your expectations? And what would you like to see replace the bakery? Let us know by posting a comment below.