Panera opened its new eatery on Thursday in a new building on the outskirts of Northgate Mall fronting Highway 153.
The restaurant -- known for its bakery items as well as soups, salads and sandwiches – was doing a brisk business during the lunchtime hour, with many tables full of diners, and the drive-through line busy.
Numerous take-home or to-go sacks were also lining the new shelves.
The move comes after the restaurant had been located on the side of the mall’s outer rim near the Hixson Pike entrance since 2001. Before that, an International House of Pancakes was located at that general location in another building.
The new restaurant, which is located next to Buddy’s BBQ in a building constructed by developer Bassam Issa, is roughly the same size as the previous one, but has a different configuration.
Besides a drive through, the interior features a straight-walk-up line along the right side to the ordering counter in the back, where the baked items can be viewed.
Shelves for the to-go items are located just to the diner’s left from the ordering counter, and the large window for dine-in pickup is just to the left of it. The rest of the restaurant is occupied by tables and chairs.
The previous restaurant had a cul-de-sac-like parking area, which sometimes created jam-ups finding parking or small delays pulling out of a parking spot in the pre-pandemic days.
The new eatery, while seeming to possess fewer parking places within a few feet of the new entrance than previously, has numerous ones spreading out back toward the mall that are expected to allow for more ease parking and walking into and out of the restaurant.