Panera Bread® Opens First Santa Barbara Location with the Help of Elite Group of Athlete Partners

Former and Current NFL Players Keyshawn Johnson, Reggie Bush, Dennis Northcutt, Anthony Henry and Terence Newman Continue Panera's expansion with first location in Santa Barbara, Seventh Along Central Coast

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., Feb. 27, 2012 // PRNewswire // -- Panera Bread will open its first Santa Barbara bakery-cafe on Saturday, March 3, co-owned by former USC All-American and NFL football star, and current ESPN broadcaster Keyshawn Johnson. The newest bakery-cafe is located in La Cumbre Plaza at 3851 State Street in Santa Barbara, CA. This is the seventh location to open in the Central Coast area.

With its identity rooted in handcrafted, freshly-baked, artisan bread, Panera Bread is committed to providing great tasting, quality food that people can trust. Highlighted by antibiotic-free chicken, whole grain bread, select organic and all-natural ingredients and a menu with zero grams added trans-fat, Panera's bakery-cafe selection offers flavorful, wholesome offerings. The menu includes a variety of year-round favorites to complement seasonal items and breads baked fresh daily in each bakery-cafe by skilled bakers. The new bakery-cafe offers a warm and welcoming environment including intimate seating areas, comfortable chairs, a community table and free WiFi Internet access.

"Panera Bread is a brand that fits so well with the California life style. Good food, great ingredients, exceptional customer service in a relaxed atmosphere. You can't get more California than that," said Keyshawn Johnson, Chief Executive Officer, First Picks Management LLC, a Panera Bread Area Developer and franchisee. "I'm from here and this is my home….I feel like I know what people here are looking for on an everyday basis and Panera Bread meets that need." Johnson loves what the brand represents, and it doesn't hurt that it has been one of the top performing restaurant stocks and industry leaders for the past several years.

Johnson, who recruited fellow NFL teammates, an NBA player and some USC Alumni along the way to strengthen his bench and further propel the company's growth, is especially proud to contribute to the economic vitality within the area. A new Panera Bread typically creates 50 to 75 new jobs within the communities they serve.

That aspect of the business is especially gratifying to First Picks Member Dennis Northcutt, former NFL wide receiver. "Investing in Panera Bread is not only a solid investment for me, it's also something I can be proud of. We create new jobs and opportunities from the start of construction all the way to the opening of the doors. It's great to see that energy along with the enthusiasm of so many young people who are working in a cafe that I helped to develop."

Other First Picks investors include: Terence Newman, Warrick Dunn, Eric Allen, Reggie Bush, Anthony Henry, Keith Rivers, Corey Ivy, and Joe Smith. First Picks management team is Clarence Mah, Chief Financial Officer, Glenn Mah, Chief Operations Officer and Ingrid Roberts, Managing Director. The group currently owns franchise rights for the Central Coast and Metro Los Angeles.

Panera Bread Santa Barbara is committed to serving the community through its participation in two charitable programs. Through the Day End Dough-Nation™ program, unsold bakery products are donated to the Food Bank of Santa Barbara. Additionally it will support the Community Breadbox™ program which ensures that donations made at Panera Bread support the Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Tri-Counties, which First Picks matches by 50 percent.

For its VIP invitation-only opening party on March 2, the bakery-cafe will hold a silent auction to benefit the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation (DSLRF), formerly the Santa Barbara Breast Cancer Institute. DSLRF's mission is to eradicate breast cancer and improve the quality of women's health through innovative research, education, and advocacy. Through its Army of Women Program, the Foundation has over 360,000 volunteers nationwide who are challenging and shifting the breast cancer research community to focus finding the causes of breast cancer and the ways to prevent it, with the ultimate goal of eradicating the disease within our lifetime. With its roots firmly tied to the Santa Barbara community, the Foundation has become nationally recognized as an arbiter of innovation, education and excellence within the field of breast cancer research.

"This past year we were Panera's Pink Ribbon Bagel partner, its month long program in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month," said Dr. Susan Love, president of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation. "The support we have received from Panera Bread has been invaluable in helping raise money for our cause and we are pleased they selected us to be the beneficiary of cookie sales for its first week of opening."

In partnership with 805 Living and Bridlewood Estate Winery, the grand opening event will feature selections of the bakery-cafe menu paired with Bridlewood wine. Johnson and a number of his partners will be in attendance for the opening celebration (by invitation only). They are also available for interviews. The bakery-cafe will open at 6 a.m. on Saturday, March 3, and regular hours are Monday-Saturday 6 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Sunday 7 a.m.-9 p.m.

About Panera Bread Company

Panera Bread Company owns and franchises 1,541 bakery-cafes as of December 27, 2011 under the Panera Bread®, Saint Louis Bread Co.®, and Paradise Bakery & Cafe® names. We feature high quality, reasonably priced food in a warm, inviting, and comfortable environment. With our identity rooted in handcrafted, fresh-baked, artisan bread, we are committed to providing great tasting, quality food that people can trust. Nearly all of our bakery-cafes have a menu highlighted by antibiotic-free chicken, whole grain bread, and select organic and all-natural ingredients, with zero grams of artificial trans fat per serving, which provide flavorful, wholesome offerings. Our menu includes a wide variety of year-round favorites complemented by new items introduced seasonally with the goal of creating new standards in everyday food choices. In neighborhoods across the United States and in Ontario, Canada, our customers enjoy our warm and welcoming environment featuring comfortable gathering areas, relaxing decor, and free internet access. Our bakery-cafes routinely donate bread and baked goods to community organizations in need. Additional information is available at http://www.panerabread.com.

About First Picks Management

First Picks Management is an area developer and franchisee for Panera Bread in Southern California and on the Central Coast of California. Founded in 2006, First Picks Management is a business development company for the enterprises of professional sports athletes and select high net-worth individuals. The group invests intellectual, human and financial capital into promising businesses for the prudent development and management of enterprises. To date, they have partnered with over a dozen professional sports athletes and business entities to achieve these objectives. They work with start-up entities as well as seasoned brands. www.firstpicksmgmt.com

About the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation

The Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, an accredited 501 (c) (3) public charity was founded in 1983 to eradicate breast cancer and improve the quality of women's health through innovative research, education, and advocacy. While advances have been made in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer, it is the Foundation's mission to discover the causes of breast cancer and how to prevent its development. In 2008, the Dr. Susan Love research Foundation launched the innovative Army of Women campaign in order to recruit a much need 1 million women to participate in preventative breast cancer research studies. For more information on the foundation, please visit www.dslrf.org.

SOURCE Panera Bread

 

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