Business

Mall's roadside redevelopment attracts business from Missouri

By PAT JENKINS

The Mirror

A Missouri-based bakery-cafe is the third business to put its stamp on new roadside development at The Commons at Federal Way.

Panera Bread plans to open in time for the holiday season at one of the seven commercial “pads” on the fringe of mall parking lots next to South 320th Street and Pacific Highway South.

Company spokesman Mark Crowley said the store will have about 50 full-time and part-time employees in a combination bakery (fresh bread daily) and casual-dining, cafe-style restaurant (breakfast, lunch and dinner).

The Federal Way location will also offer free wireless Internet access to busy customers who want to eat and be on-line at the same time, Crowley said.

Federal Way is part of Panera’s expansion into Washington that began last fall and winter with new stores in Issaquah, Lynnwood and Redmond. A store is also planned for Lacey, and the company is interested in opening more, according to Crowley.

“We’re still relatively new to the Washington market, but it is a great fit for us,” he said.

Panera Bread Co. has 825 Panera Bread or Saint Louis Bread bakery-cafes in 35 states. About one-third of the stores are company-owned. The Federal Way location will be one of them. The rest are franchises.

The company is growing. It reported net income in its last fiscal year (ending Dec. 27, 2005) of $52.2 million, a 35 percent increase over the previous year’s $38.6 million. The company also has announced plans for about 160 new stores nationwide in 2006.

Panera, whose headquarters is in Richmond Heights, Mo., was founded in 1981 as Au Bon Pain Co. Inc. by Louis Kane and Ron Shaich. In 1993, it acquired Saint Louis Bread Co., a chain of 20 bakery-cafes in the St. Louis area.

The Commons at Federal Way revealed last June it hoped to attract businesses for a combined 40,000 square feet of pads bordering South 320th and Pacific. Panera’s pending use of one of the spaces was officially disclosed Tuesday, about two weeks after mall officials announced a T.G.I. Friday’s restaurant will occupy another pad. Another restaurant, McGrath’s Fish House, was announced earlier as another pad developer.

At least two more businesses are being negotiated, said Gary Martindale, the mall’s general manager.

The development will change the mall’s appearance from the streets by replacing some of the expansive blacktop with businesses. The mall has undergone other changes, too, since being purchased in 2003 by Steadfast Commercial Properties. The California-based owner has redesigned the main pedestrian entrances and added several new stores. A 16-screen Century Theaters movie complex is tentatively scheduled to open late this year.

Editor Pat Jenkins: 925-5565, editor@fedwaymirror.com

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