Today I saw a sign at Panera Bread 3851 State St. that says their grand opening is Saturday March 3rd. I have followed the pending arrival of Panera Bread longer than any other restaurant mentioned in this column: 2 years and 21 days as of today (24 news stories).


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  1. michael guthrie says:

    March 3rd is their opening day…….

  2. Mike says:

    Isnt chipotle supposed to open in la cumbre plaza also? And where?

  3. Esther says:

    I’m so excited!!! 🙂

  4. Nancy says:

    YEAH!!!!!! 🙂
    Love Panera!!

  5. Pam Dickson says:

    I do understand the anticipation the opening of Panera Bread but quite honestly, the food is horrible, pre-packaged and full of sodium and fat. god help your arteries! John Dickson, it is quite possible you are a relative (Inverness perhaps?) If that is the case advocate veggie haggis!

    • Esther says:

      Really? I like that their food is lower in calories, and they try to be as healthy as possible, from my POV. I guess, to each their own.

    • N says:

      Their food isn’t pre-packaged. Saying that is just spreading malicious lies on purpose in order to discourage new customers from trying it.

      Their breads are fresh made and very high quality, some of the best sandwich breads you will find anywhere. The breads at Fresco and other local shops will not compare once you try the Panera breads.

      • Fresco is not a bread bakery so I am not sure why we are mentioned here.
        We do purchase our whole bread product from Our Daily Bread in Santa Barbara, Les Dles D’or from Ojai and Ann’s Bakery from Ventura, all, yes, wait for it,….. local businesses.
        We also make our own focaccia, pizza and calzone dough from scratch. Just want to make sure you know the facts.
        As for other businesses, they can speak for themselves.
        Jill Brouillard

  6. Glenn says:

    Is it me or are guys the only ones who don’t go around saying Panera Bread! Panera Bread! I was underwhelmed when I tried it at the Santa Maria one. It did have nice artwork on the wall……but I’ll give it another try when it gets here…

    • a p c says:

      John Dickson’s a guy, and so is at least one of the Panera tipsters!

      • Glenn says:

        I guess because my expectations were so high? While I was eating a not that great sandwich my wife kept saying how much she loved it. I will be eager to try it and compare to the best of the best in town like South Coast Deli, etc. The decor was great though.

  7. sbdude says:

    Gotta love the cynicism.

    Perhaps with the presence of Panera Bread, the likes of Fresco and Panino’s will be encouraged to reduce the absolutely outrageous prices of their mediocre sandwiches. That’s right, I called out the local shops. GASP!

    • Alexandra says:

      Totally agree!

    • I appreciate your right to comment, and your concerns. I do invite you to come in and observe the preparation of our menu each day, the amount of product that we purchase, and the labor that it takes to prepare all our foods, everything fresh and prepared on site each day. We do not have a commissary that our food comes from, or national access to lower prices. You have a right to choose where you eat and we stand by our product and it’s value. We are grateful everyday to the consumers in Santa Barbara who have supported us since 1995, and we consider them to be part of our Fresco Family.
      Jill Brouillard
      Owner Fresco cafe

  8. Beth Bailey says:

    I might be excited if I was trapped in an airport and really, really hungry.

  9. tc says:

    The nutrition section on Panera Bread’s website has many unhealthy items. Many of the food items are high in sodium. Some soups are listed as low fat but sill high in sodium. The soups aren’t made on the premises from scratch. The soups are started with a base. As far as the other comments made for Fresco Cafe, yes, their entrees specials are expensive. For standing in line and not being waited on; the prices of the entrees are high. Natural Cafe serves wild caught fish as one of their entree at half the price.

    • N says:

      Most of the local shops don’t even have nutrition info available, so you can’t know for sure how healthy their food is. I do know I’ve had items that have been extremely salty tasting, nevermind hidden sodium. It’s up to the consumer to choose healthier dishes because local doesn’t automatically equate to better and healthier.

  10. Sharon says:

    Santa Barbara has been waiting for along time for the grand opening of Panera Bread and yes, hooray, hooray they are having their grand opening Saturday by invitation only according to what I read this morning. Very Disappointing

    • sbdude says:

      Their grand opening on Saturday is for everyone. The VIP, by invitation only, event is on Friday, at least according to the press release John posted on the site a few days ago.

  11. Susan says:

    Panera Bread had VERY mediocre bread at best. Living in a town with all the fantastic local bakeries we have, well, maybe the over 60 crowd will like Panera bread, but not the truly savvy. Like others have said, “to each his own”

    The rest of the menu (food) ain’t much to write home about either…just sayin’.

    • Alex says:

      I think Panera Bread actually has a younger following since we can actually afford to eat there. The local places, although delicious, are just too expensive for us.

      • PamSB says:

        Well, as a 63 year old who has studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, taught Chinese cooking classes after taking classes in the original languages in 7 countries of the Orient, and traveled the world with cooking teachers, cookbook authors and restaurant writers from the Los Angeles Times and Bon Appetit, it is interesting that the reason I enjoy Panera Bread’s offerings is due to the fact that I’m not “truly savvy.” Thanks SO much for enlightening me, Susan!

        • N says:

          Well said, PamSB. I don’t understand how anyone can call the artisan breads at Panera mediocre, especially when most of the sandwich places (south coast, natural) here in town use bread that isn’t much better than grocery store-bought bread! I really like the natural cafe, but the breads they use aren’t the great.

  12. casper the friendly dude says:


    Can you please share with us who you know from the Los Angeles Times and Bon Appetit. Because I too can be Superman on the internet or a Texas Space Cowboy Millionaire. Oh and about Panera’s so called home made bread, its actually pre made at their factory and distributed to the restaurants then all they do is heat it up and put it under a heat lamp. You’re right no other restaurant in all of SB has good bread but then again when have you heard of Santa Barbara having good restaurants? Its like saying everyone is rich in SB and nobody rents.

    • sbdude says:

      You might be surprised, casper, but a lot of people DO come to Santa Barbara for its dining. Hence the reason for this website and dining blog. There are plenty of excellent (and famous) restaurants here: San Ysidro Inn, Opal, Bouchon, the Palace (kind of a dive, but excellent nonetheless), Brophy’s. I could go on.

      And as for your bread theory at Panera, no, they do not ship into the stores. Their bread is baked locally. That is unless all the mixing equipment, proofers and ovens are for show.

    • Don says:

      @casper the moronic dude – Wow.. Thank you Mr. Knowitall.. You pretty much wrote the Panera SOP there. Step 1. Unwrap prepackaged bread. Step 2. Place under giant heat lamp. Your ignorance is showing. All breads and bagels are prepped, proofed and baked daily at each location. Bread doesn’t stay fresh very long under even the most normal environment. Fresh dough is what is made offsite and delivered in the middle of the night-early morning, in it’s retarded state (which means refrigerated to minimize the rising process during it’s resting period). If you knew anything about baking, you would understand how unlikely it would be to mix and make fresh dough daily at a store level for the large variety of bagels alone, in addition to the various breads they use and sell. Don

  13. PamSB says:

    Casper: The late, great Lois Dwan and her husband, Robert, were good friends of my husband and me and we met many other restaurant writers, chefs, cookbook authors, etc., through their acquaintance. Nope, not Superman OR Superwoman, but have been fortunate throughout my lifetime to meet many Supermen AND Superwomen…:) And, I have no dog in the Panera Bread race, just enjoy eating there (I’m a salad nut and love their seasonal salads). I just took umbrage at being over 60 and not truly savvy…:)

  14. casper the friendly dude says:


    Wow PR control in full affect. Did i strike a nerve? Why are you so passionate about Panera Bread? Or are you just that passionate about food in general? Be my guest and indulge in sodium.

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