Chattanooga – A Great Place For Business

  • Tuesday, July 9, 2024
  • Bob Marcum
Bob Marcum
Bob Marcum

Just over a year ago — June 28, 2023, to be exact — Hamra Enterprises acquired 24 Panera Bread locations, including four in Chattanooga and surrounding communities. Coming into a new market is always a time for excitement, connecting with new people, welcoming new guests, and becoming part of a new community. But it can also be a time for anxiety, with so many unknown factors that are difficult to anticipate.

But what we found, from day one, was an ideal match – that Hamra Enterprises and Chattanooga are perfect together.

Hamra Enterprises, a family-owned business headquartered in Springfield, Mo., began nearly 50 years ago as a single Wendy’s restaurant committed to the development and growth of our team members and the community.

Over the past 10 years alone, the company has grown from operating just under 100 restaurants under the Wendy’s, Noodles and Company, and Panera brands to nearly 200 locations today, in addition to adding Caribou Coffee to its brand offerings. The company now owns and operates 92 Panera bakery cafés, aside from the other branded locations.

I have been privileged to grow my career with the company, and guided others in their growth as well. After joining the company as an assistant store manager 15 years ago, I have served in many roles, and am now responsible for the oversight of 36 locations throughout the South. It has been a rewarding professional journey, highlighted by watching many others who joined our team as dishwashers and bakers become general managers with bright futures at our growing company.

When we came into the region last year we were no stranger to Tennessee – we’ve operated locations in the Memphis area for years, where I have personally been located since 2019. But last year was our first venture into the eastern side of The Volunteer State, with new locations in Alcoa, Cleveland, Oak Ridge, and Knoxville, in addition to Chattanooga. And I must say, our reception was as if we were already part of the community.

From the business community to community leaders, from our new team members to our new guests, we’ve enjoyed southern hospitality throughout our first year. Chattanooga has proven to be a dynamic community, family friendly, with people of integrity. Chattanooga also enjoys a robust economy and leaders with an eye toward the future. These are values that Chattanooga and our company share, and work to emulate every day at Hamra Enterprises.

Our company prides itself on the core values of fun, family, integrity, self expression, and discovery, words that can be as readily applied to Chattanooga, just as they are in the Hamra Enterprises corporate charter – a charter that was, by the way, written by employees, not outside consultants. We remain committed to connecting with every employee, and every guest, on a personal level. We are all friends and colleagues committed to a shared set of values – yet another reason that Chattanooga is such a great fit for us.

Chattanooga very much has the vibe of a city on the move, with a growing population, job opportunities, and a relaxed lifestyle with unmatched natural beauty. From Lookout Mountain to educational opportunities and a unique blend of nature and city life – not to mention the train history – it’s small wonder that Chattanooga is becoming a destination of choice. Hamra Enterprises is proud to be a part of it.

I want to thank the people of Chattanooga, who have welcomed us with open arms and made this past year such a pleasure as we get to know our new community, new employees, and new guests. We look forward to growing with you, as I know the best is yet to come.

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Bob Marcum is regional director of operations for the Southern Bread division of Hamra Enterprises, a Springfield, Mo., based franchisee of Wendy’s, Panera Bread, Noodles & Co. and Caribou Coffee stores. The company owns and operates nearly 200 locations in 11 states, including four Panera bakery cafés in Chattanooga and surrounding areas.


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