Panera To Fill Vacancy at 213 Burlington Road
Although it remains unclear when it will open its doors, Bedford residents can expect a Panera to fill the vacancy between Bamboo and the Melting Pot.
At their Nov. 27 meeting, the Planning Board voted 5-0 to grant a special permit for a Panera Bread, specializing in take out and delivery, along with atrium seating for up to 36 patrons, in the lobby at 213 Burlington Road.
The Panera will include a take out counter, where customers can pick up orders they placed online, several Ipad terminals which will remember a returning patron's previous orders as soon as they swipe a credit card and 36 seats in the atrium of the building to be used as common seating.
Pam Brown, of Brown and Brown PC, said Panera is also requesting several parking spaces be designated by signing to be reserved for Panera customers running into the restaurant to pick up to go orders.
Along with the new eatery comes a new 48 vehicle parking lot in front of the building, permitted in 2009, already under construction.
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Brown said the additional parking will alleviate any additional vehicle traffic resulting from the new restaurant.
"The front parking being constructed will accommodate Panera and have overflow parking, whether it's one, five or eight spaces," Brown said.
Planning Board member Sandra Hackman said she had concerns that the new Middlesex Turnpike connector adjacent to Burlington Road would lead to heavier traffic in the area.
Gregg Godfrey, of Panera Operations, said Panera's peak hours are not during rush hour, when Burlington Road and the Middlesex Turnpike see the heaviest traffic.
Panera's peak hours are from 12 p.m.-1 p.m., according to Godfrey.
Planning Board members asked Selectman Mark Siegenthaler, who was present at the meeting, if he felt the new parking lot addresses concerns about heavy traffic as a result of Panera.
"Like all of our parking lots it will depend on if people follow the rules," Siegenthaler said.
As the special permit dictates, Panera will be required to participate in a one year parking monitoring program along with CMT Realty Partnership, the property owner.
The monitoring program will start three months after Panera opens it doors, and will continue with results submitted for a year on a quarterly basis in order to assess whether the parking at 213 Burlington Road, following the construction of the new front lot, is sufficient for the business Panera adds to the building.
"Based upon this data and any field observations from staff or interested parties, there shall be determinations made as to whether or not the building at 213 Burlington Road, operating with a fully functional Panera Bread, has sufficient parking supply with the added demand from Panera," according to the permit.
One alternative that has been discussed by Planning Board and Panera has been a shared parking with 209 Burlington Road.
Planning Director Glenn Garber asked Godfrey if it would be possible to receive information from Panera on how many orders they serve each day, and how many orders were for takeout, delivery and catering in hopes of determining Panera's exact impact on traffic around the building each day.
It remains unclear as to when Panera will open its Bedford location, according to Brown, who said the permit will now go before the Code Enforcement department.
"They originally wanted to open by the end of the year, and then they were looking at Feb. 1," Brown said.