Panera Bread Celebrates Menifee Opening With Ribbon Cutting

The City of Menifee welcomed a major dining attraction to the community Monday when Panera Bread cel...

The City of Menifee welcomed a major dining attraction to the community Monday when Panera Bread celebrated its ribbon cutting in the Countryside Marketplace on Haun Road.

Welcomed by Mayor John Denver, Economic Development Director Jeff Wyman, other city and Chamber of Commerce officials and a Sherrifs Department mounted posse, Panera opened the doors to its bakery-cafe for a VIP tour and luncheon for local dignataries.

Panera will be open to the public beginning Tuesday. Its hours will be 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays. Featuring a complete menu of breakfast sandwiches, bagels, cafe sandwiches, salads, panani and bakery goods, this facility also is one of only two Panera establishments with drive-through service.

"I don't think any community is more excited about a Panera coming to town than we are," Wyman said. "This is one of the forward moving items in our community; we have many others. It's an exciting time for our city."

This is a homecoming of sorts for Tony Rolland, joint ventures partner for Panera, LLC. After opening Panera cafes throughout the U.S., Rolland moved to the Menifee Valley seven years ago. He and his daughter Shannon, who was part of the Sherrifs mounted guard Monday, used to search for stray horses in the hills east of town.

"This is our back yard," Rolland said. "Seven years ago, I was fortunate enough to come back to L.A., and here we are today."

Andre Gittens, general manager of the Menifee Panera cafe, cut the ribbon outside the front door while being joined by city officials and Chamber of Commerce members. Inside, Gittens and Rolland showed off the cafe's attractive facility and quality menu of healthy fresh foods.

All Panera bakery products are made with salt, flour, yeast and water only, Rolland explained. No preservatives are used. All items are cooked fresh each morning. At the end of each business day, surplus food will be picked up by the Menifee Valley Community Cupboard for distribution to needy families in the area. The Cupboard is an agency of Second Harvest Food Bank, with which Panera is connected nationally through the Feeding America program.

According to Rolland, Panera is a "no-tip" cafe. Instead of tips, customers are invited to leave a donation in a cash box by the register. Donations collected will be matched dollar for dollar by Panera and given to Feeding America.