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Dave Olson, Published September 21 2013

Panera Bread rising in Fargo as chain opens first North Dakota location

FARGO – Panera Bread is set to open its doors at 6 a.m. Monday on the corner of 13th Avenue and 40th Street South at the West Acres Shopping Center.

That fact wasn’t sitting well Friday afternoon with Lu Burnett, who had just piled her children out of the family van only to discover, too late, that the doors to the new Panera were locked and their intended lunch spot was out of reach.

“I just got all the kids unbuckled,” said Burnett, who set her sights instead on a nearby Starbucks.

Burnett wasn’t alone in her disappointment Friday, as customer after customer tried the door, only to walk away dejected.

Anticipation surrounding the store is high, said Shane Quail, joint venture partner in Panera Bread, who was helping get the store ready for Monday’s opening.

Quail said the company is happy to offer area customers wholesome food choices paired with convenient service.

“We hope the drive-thru element will provide added convenience to the many customers who live and travel through this area,” Quail said.

Alissa Sorum, West Acres marketing director, said the mall welcomes Panera, a brand she said was high on customer wish lists.

“Not only does Panera Bread offer delicious food choices in a warm and convenient way, but they also are a great community partner in combating hunger,” said Sorum, referring to Panera’s Day-End Dough-Nation program.

At the end of each day, Panera Bread will donate its unsold bread and baked goods to local area hunger relief agencies.

The company annually donates more than $100 million worth of unsold bread and baked goods.

Panera Bread hours are: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays; 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

The phone number is (701) 492-4598.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555