Panera closes one of its local bakery-cafes after 15-year run

Dayton Mall location will be replaced by a larger one under construction just off State Route 725, but not until 2021

A Panera Bread bakery-cafe that had operated since 2005 is now closed, although a spokeswoman for the restaurant chain’s Dayton-area franchisee said this morning, Tuesday July 7 that a new and larger replacement will open nearby in 2021.

Visitors to the free-standing Panera at 2500 Miamisburg-Centerville Road just east of the Dayton Mall are greeted with a sign reading “CAFE CLOSED: Sorry, we’re closed until further notice. Please visit us at our other locations: Heart of Centerville, Austin Landing and Sugarcreek (Twp.).” A “For Lease: Restaurant/Retail” sign has been erected on the store’s front lawn, facing Ohio 725.

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Credit: Mark Fisher

Credit: Mark Fisher

A spokeswoman for Covelli Enterprises, the franchisee that operates all Dayton-area Panera locations, said in an email today that a new Panera cafe that is under construction near Lyons Road and Miamisburg-Centerville Road is a relocation of the Dayton Mall store, which is about a mile-and-a-half away.

“Due to the current circumstances, we do not have an official opening date for Washington Twp., but we are projecting first half of 2021,” the spokeswoman said. The construction site was a beehive of activity this morning, as workers prepared for the installation of the new cafe’s parking lot.

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The 4,523-square-foot Panera will include outdoor seating and a drive-through. It is located on a 1.35-acre tract on the northwest corner of Drexel Park Lane and Lyons Road, in an outlot in front of the Washington Park Plaza.

Credit: Mark Fisher

Credit: Mark Fisher

“We are relocating to give our customers a better experience,” the Covelli Enterprises spokeswoman said. “This new location will be equipped with a drive-through and ordering kiosks. These services are a part of Panera 2.0, the concept’s initiative to improve the customer’s experience.”

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The new Panera is about two miles west of the restaurant chain’s “Heart of Centerville” store at 11 N. Main St., which, like the Dayton Mall store, does not have a drive-through window. The downtown Centerville location has reopened following the coronavirus pandemic-related statewide shutdown of all dine-in services., and also is offering curbside service.

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Warren, Ohio-based Covelli Enterprises, which operates more than 315 restaurants in eight states, has expanded Panera’s footprint throughout the Dayton area since purchasing what was then 11 Dayton- and Springfield-area Panera locations in 2014. In 2017, it opened new locations in both Englewood and Huber Heights. In addition to the Washington Twp. location under construction, plans have been submitted to Beavercreek city officials for a new Panera at the site of a former Friendly’s restaurant at the corner of North Fairfield Road and Dayton-Xenia Road.

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