Panera suddenly closes Newtown store; Darien reportedly next

By Kevin Zimmerman

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What’s happening with Panera Bread, the popular fast casual restaurant chain, when it comes to Connecticut? The company isn’t saying, but without notice it closed its Newtown location on Nov. 16 and reportedly will shutter its Darien location by the end of the year.

screen-shot-2016-11-18-at-10-37-03-amThe moves do not seem to reflect trouble at the Kirkwood, Missouri-based firm: last month it reported third-quarter earnings of $684.2 million, compared with $664.7 million in the year-ago period. It also reiterated its targeted range for fiscal 2016 company-owned comparable net bakery-cafe sales growth of 4 to 5 percent.

As of Sept. 27, Panera operated 903 company-owned stores and 1,121 franchise-operated outlets. The company said same-store sales rose 3.4 percent in the period, while franchise-operated store sales were up 0.2 percent. System-wide comparable net bakery-cafe sales rose 1.7 percent from a year ago.

“Panera is years ahead in our efforts and we believe we are well-positioned for long-term success,” Chairman and CEO Ron Shaich said.

The Newtown location in Sand Hill Plaza at 228 S. Main St. appeared to be doing steady business, as has the Darien outlet at 1063 Boston Post Road. Greenwich Manor LLC, which owns the Darien property, has reportedly been informed that Panera does not plan to renew its lease when it expires at the end of December. Calls to the company were not returned.

Other county locations include Brookfield, Danbury, Norwalk, Shelton, Trumbull and Westport.

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