Here Today: Can Panera Thrive on Black Rock Turnpike?

Panera Bread plans to take over the former site of Mesa, Mackenzies, Black Rock Tavern, and Pizzeria Uno on Black Rock Turnpike -- do you think the bakery chain will be here to stay?

Multiples tenants have come and gone at 2320 Black Rock Turnpike since Pizzeria Uno closed in 2009. That portion of the Lake Hills Shopping Center has housed Black Rock Tavern, MacKenzies, and most recently, Mesa.

Panera Bread hopes to make a lasting impression on the site when it moves in this fall. The St. Louis-based bakery chain recently opened a new branch in Norwalk and plans to open in Westport as well.

Considering the shaky history that building has had in tenants since 2009, is Panera the right choice for the site? Readers who weighed in mostly agreed.


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"I think having Panera Bread at Black Rock Turnpike is an excellent choice," Terry Fronzi said on the Fairfield Patch Facebook page. "The buzz in Fairfield is positive!"

Andrew Graceffa agreed. "It will do just fine there... Einstein's is really popular and it would seem that there is capacity for another to succeed."

Some lamented the idea of welcoming another chain to Black Rock Turnpike (Panera will sit near Trader Joe's and Pier 1 Imports, and is also close to Starbucks, Einstein Bros. Bagel, among other big names).

"Fairfield can and should hope for and do better than another chain," Doug Garni said on Facebook.

But Robyn Bilotta countered that a chain is the "only thing that will do well in that location."

"It has to be something that already draws a crowd and is successful."


Do you think Panera Bread will thrive in the Lake Hills Shopping Center? Tell us what you think and why in the comments.

Carol Logen October 09, 2012 at 11:55 AM
OH YES!!!! I have been imagining one on Post Road where Las Vetas used to be and I'm even more excited that they're coming to Black Rock, 2 minutes from my house. I love Paneras and will happily support them as often as I can. YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Marie Stalling October 09, 2012 at 12:19 PM
Yes! Panera will be successful anywhere!
Arlene Murphy October 09, 2012 at 12:33 PM
Absolutely! Panera offers the most options for a healthy quick meal and a great gathering place! Can't wait!
Caitlin Mazzola (Editor) October 09, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Some discussion from Twitter (@FairfieldPatch): @anidoll said, "it's a chain, not bad priced, people will flock." @JSR1948: "Is this the end of Billy's Bakery?"
Jason Silver October 09, 2012 at 05:19 PM
The three restaurants that failed since Uno's left were all under the same owner. He just couldn't find anything that would stick. In my opinion, none of hs restaurants were that good either. Nothing wrong with Panera going in there. The space is too large for an independent restaurant. I do miss having a bar there, though.
C. Martin October 10, 2012 at 12:00 AM
There is no question that Panera will be successful at that site. The bigger question is whether there will be enough parking, as the lot seems to be quite busy already. I hear they are hoping for a November opening...
Robert Konigsberg October 11, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Billy's will live on. I will never stop going to Billy's but would gladly have lunch, a short business meeting or stop in to check my email and have a bread bowl and soup at Paneras.


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