The operator of Dayton-area Panera Bread cafes was named the chain’s “Franchisee of the Year” this month. FILE

Local Panera Bread operator named ‘Franchisee of the Year’

The operator for Dayton-area Panera Bread restaurants has scored a national shout-out in the form of the chain’s “Franchisee of the Year” award. The award is the top award a franchise owner can receive in the system, according to Covelli Enterprises, which operates more than a dozen Panera cafes in the Dayton-Springfield region.

The award was presented earlier this month in Nashville, Tennessee at Panera Bread’s “Family Reunion,” which brings together thousands of general managers, district managers, and support staff on both the company and franchisee side, Covelli officials said in a release. The Panera Bread Family Reunion is held every five years.

The “Franchisee of the Year” designation is given to company based on operational excellence, market growth, café openings, market acquisitions and financial performance, Covelli Enterprises officials said.

Warren, Ohio-based Covelli Enterprises is the largest franchisee of Panera Bread restaurants, with more than 300 locations in six states. The franchisee announced in 2014 that it had purchased 11 Dayton- and Springfield-area Panera locations, and said it had aggressive growth plans for the Dayton market. And last year alone, it opened new locations in both Englewood and Huber Heights.

“I have never been so proud in my entire career,” Sam Covelli, owner and CEO of Covelli Enterprises, said in a release. “This award is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our leadership team, our management and our associates.”

Covelli Enterprises also earned other individual awards for largest sales increases, most café openings and highest café sales, at the event.

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