The Arroyo Grande City Council has approved plans for a Panera Bread restaurant on West Branch Street. It is expected to open later this year and be next to the Hampton Inn & Suites. The 3,850-square-foot restaurant at 1400 W. Branch St. was unanimously approved at the council’s March 26 meeting. The council approved a conditional-use permit that also allows for Panera Bread to have a drive-through at the location.
City officials say the bakery-café will help complete a project started in 2004 when plans were laid for a 103-room hotel and 6,000-square-foot, sit-down restaurant on a 2.68-acre property.
The hotel opened in 2011 after several years of financial troubles. The restaurant site had remained vacant and was purchased in 2008 by Nick and Kathy Tompkins of San Luis Obispo-based NKT Development.
Panera Bread and the Hampton Inn will share 123 off-street parking spaces.
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Separately, the restaurant and hotel would be required to have 33 parking spots and 105 spots, respectively, but the city’s municipal code allows for an up to 20 percent reduction for common parking facilities if they meet certain requirements (the 123 spaces is an approximately 12 percent parking reduction).
“The thought is the majority of people (at the hotel) are there when the restaurant is closed,” Arroyo Grande Assistant Planner Matthew Downing said. “And then during the day, when people get up to leave, more spaces are there for the restaurant.”
Established in 1981, Panera Bread operates 1,652 company-owned and franchise-operated bakery-cafes in 44 states and in Ontario, Canada as of Dec. 25, 2012, according to its website.
There is currently one Panera Bread restaurant in San Luis Obispo County, located at 299 Madonna Road in San Luis Obispo.