Proposed Panera Bread Draws Concerns from Waltham Residents, Councilors
Panera Bread is proposing a second location in Waltham.
Waltham City Councilors expressed several preliminary concerns about the proposed second location of Panera Bread during a public hearing on Monday, June 25.
Specifically, Panera and Waltham Ventures LLC, the site’s owner, are seeking a permit top operate a fast food restaurant, a separate permit for a drive-thru and an amendment to a prior permit allowing a drive-thru.
The concerns surround adequate parking and the smell that would emanate from the site.
- The store would be 4,200 square feet and would have a main entry across from Prospect Hill Road, according to Panera’s attorney Joseph Connors. There would be a separate truck entry from Main Street into the back of the building. It would exit onto Weston Street as a right turn only, according to Connors.
- There would be 86 seats inside and about 32 seasonal seats outside, according to Connors.
- The hours would be Monday-Friday, 6 a.m. – 10 p.m., Saturday, 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. and Sunday, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
- The store would hire about 50 employees, according to Panera Bread District Manager Scott Hauber said.
- There would also be an eight-foot fence and landscaping surrounding the site to provide a visual barrier to abutters, according to Connors. It would also block excess noise, he said.
- Hauber said a second location was necessary “because one this side of town you don’t have a Panera.”
- PARKING: City Councilor Joe Vizard said he was concerned the site lacked adequate parking because customers of Panera tend to linger in the store for a while. “I don’t think people are moving that quickly through Panera Bread,” he said.
- DRIVE-THRU: Waltham resident Jennifer Patton started a petition against the drive-thru provision saying it would negatively impact traffic and the environment. She said she had received 79 signatures. “It adds an unnecessary burden to an already congested traffic area and to air pollution,” she said.
- Vizard also said the drive-thru line would get backed up while customers were waiting for their food to be cooked.
- Hauber responded saying the store would have a dedicated drive-thru crew and would work to make it as efficient as possible. Panera has about 100 drive-thru locations nationwide, an indication of the amount of experience the company has in operating them, according to Hauber.
- ODOR: City Councilor Robert Logan said he was worried the odor of bread would bother residents who would have to tolerate it each day. A project official told the council it would be possible to install a device to temper the smell, but that it is not typically done unless requested.