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Arlington Heights Panera Closing

See what a company spokeswoman said about the decision.

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.

Lynn March 07, 2013 at 01:31 PM
Panera is disgusting. Hopefully we get something good as a replacement
Annmarie March 07, 2013 at 01:41 PM
The store is very busy so I'm shocked they are saying its non profitable, maybe its bab bookkeeping!! We go to panera at least once a week as a family, i own a business on the same block and I love going there for lunch, its quick and the menu is great.. We are sad to hear we wont have a close convenient panera to go to...
Annmarie March 07, 2013 at 01:41 PM
Oops typo I meant Bad bookkeeping
gbc March 07, 2013 at 01:51 PM
Panera decided long ago to dump the Arlington store. So they stopped investing in it and maintaining it while they sought a different location. Other Paneras are modernized, well-maintained and well supported by their neighborhoods. Our Panera was supported by the community - always busy - until the corporation returned the favor by deciding to go elsewhere, and stopped even basic maintenance for ripped seats and broken chairs. Thanks Panera. Glad we could help your corporate expansion. I won't be supporting your other convenient locations.
Mark Tuttle March 07, 2013 at 02:03 PM
I'm grateful to read in your report some answers to the most obvious "why?" questions I couldn't get answered elsewhere. -Mark Tuttle
Mark Tuttle March 07, 2013 at 02:15 PM
I'm bowled over by the negative comments here. This is Arlington, Massachusetts. Name one hangout in town that is beautiful. It isn't Starbucks. Yet both Panera and Starbucks are packed every time I visit.
Bob Sprague March 07, 2013 at 02:55 PM
Stephen, You published Truepersons.com before Tim Berners-Lee created the visual Internet? What a feat? Panera opened in 1999. Bob
Bob Sprague March 07, 2013 at 02:56 PM
Thanks for your positive comment, Mark
Ginger Webb March 07, 2013 at 03:19 PM
I love having the Panera here. The only reason I can think for it closing is that it is too small compared to other locations for the things that they can offer as a company (near my Dad's in North Carolina, for example, they have a gas fireplace, expanded and variable seating etc.) I will miss it.
Sarah Trainor March 07, 2013 at 03:39 PM
I hope another good lunch place goes into that spot. I have enjoyed meeting friends there for coffee and bagels for many years now. *Please* not yet another bank! We have more than enough banks in this town already!
MS March 07, 2013 at 04:06 PM
The real problem is that there are too many people who go to the Heights Panera! The building isn't large enough to accommodate everyone, and the traffic flow in there is terrible. Aside from my typical gripe about all Panera's, they need a division of labor: people manning the till at all times, and runners behind them making the lattes, cutting and toasting the bagels, etc. The general lack of organization drives me insane, but it isn't peculiar to the Heights. I worry most for the people who live across the street in the retirement community. Where will they go? At the very least, Panera offered a place for the community to gather and interact in the Heights. And now it's leaving...really sad. Jay, you were always a great way to start the day!
AnnMarie Zocchi March 07, 2013 at 04:09 PM
As our Monthly meeting womens place.....We will truly miss Panera!!!
Betsy Yates March 07, 2013 at 04:32 PM
Sad to see Panera go, but hopeful the new place will also have fountain soda. Priorities.
Emily March 07, 2013 at 05:08 PM
Sad to see Panera-Arl Hghts go but have been frequenting the Porter Sq. cafe much more since it opened last year. Hard to imagine Panera at Fresh Pond....oh well.
Emily March 07, 2013 at 05:12 PM
Meant to add - long live as Quebrada!
Lisa March 07, 2013 at 07:06 PM
Why is everyone assuming it "wasn't profitable"? I come from St. Louis, the original home of Panera (there: "Saint Louis Bread Co.") and I think it's pretty clear from the statement that while other locations have been renovated, such was just not possible in that building. In other words, it's too small and there's no real option to renovate. Paneras in the Midwest are large, well-lit, bright and shiny places and I can see why they want to keep up with that image wherever they're located. It's too bad for us but maybe it helps explain the lack of really *good* cafes around here, a topic that often arises on the list serves.
george March 07, 2013 at 07:36 PM
Panera managment doesn't care about people just money so now lets all decide to not go to any Panera's for at least 3 months after they close & abandon Arlington's Heights location. Yes it will be hard to do but let us tell management what we think about their (bad) decision.
David Markun March 07, 2013 at 07:42 PM
I'm sorry to see Panera go. I thought its scale and ambience were about right for Arlington. It was a nice meeting place with space, WiFi, food to meet many tastes, and a community bulletin board. I wonder how many micro-businesses just lost their preferred conference room?
Anne Marie March 07, 2013 at 08:44 PM
The audience wasn't "young" or "hip" or the "right demographic" enough for The Corporation to continue investing in it. I hope Fresh Pond will prove to be the location of their dreams - MUCH more convenient location there.
Lori Pesctaore March 07, 2013 at 09:25 PM
It really is a determent to the well being of the Arlington Heights. This is such a great area but needs so much TLC and a place like Panera gave it a little pick me up. Maybe something like B Good Restaurants will fill the spot.
Asli March 08, 2013 at 01:48 AM
I really hope that they open something similar to Panera!! Arlington needs it. We were going there all the time I am very sad that it is closing!!
ed l March 08, 2013 at 03:25 AM
Boloco and Jamba Juice.....
SteveM March 08, 2013 at 07:53 AM
I stopped going to the Arlington Panera as frequently as I used to because of the people. The last time I went with my girlfriend and it was so hard to find a seat for the two of us. I was so annoyed I kept track of the scene. From the time we ordered our food, ate, to the time we left there were three four seat booths occupied by a single person. During this time these individuals had their laptop and ordered, nor ate any food while I was there. I have a feeling this Panera didn't fail because of bad management or bad accounting. It failed because the "entitled" snobs that went there ruined it for the rest of us. Stay classy.
robbinsfarm March 08, 2013 at 06:55 PM
Well that really too bad because I am huge Panera fan, wish I owned 100 shares !!! Anyway maybe someone see a good location for a nice coffee and fresh baked items ? I think it would work ?
Mark Kaepplein March 09, 2013 at 08:30 PM
I prefer Panera to Au Bon Pan as a sandwich, soup, and bread option. The problem is that the Arlington location is made isolated by being on a narrow two lane road. The locations corporate has gone to clearly show how they know adequate transportation is vital to support successful businesses. Being near a bike/pedestrian path and on a bus line does not bring in enough business. A lunch crowd and major road access are needed too. Witness all the out of business stores in pedestrian mall downtown crossing due to no motor vehicle access and overpriced parking.
JanS March 25, 2013 at 03:07 AM
Maybe the same fate for East Arlington, if the proposed decrease in Mass Ave lanes project proceeds. Keep 4 lanes in the east!
Sheila Packard March 26, 2013 at 11:42 PM
Never failed to see someone I knew there - a real community meeting spot. Over the years have met friends for coffee, watched groups of folks old and young sharing stories, had family dinners when we just weren't up to cooking - this spot was not just a chain, it had become part of the fabric of Arlington Heights. Hope its replacement can be that, too.
Steven Kleinma April 02, 2013 at 04:21 PM
Perhaps the blame should be laid at the landlord's feet. How many stores close because the landlord decides to charge excessive rent, refuses to upgrade the infrastructure of the building, or perhaps it is just the reality of needing to close a business to bring the facility up to new and improved standards.
Bob Sprague April 02, 2013 at 04:24 PM
Do you have any specific information that the landlord was to blame, or are you just speculating? Bob Sprague
Molly Johnson April 12, 2013 at 02:32 PM
Oh darn, I was so hoping it was a temporary closure for renovations! I need to let the posse know....there may well be weeping. Yes, we can go to Lexington, and we will, but it's so not the same. A Panera Cares spot in there would be marvelous! Okay, I dream big. Always have, always will.

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