Chain bakery-cafe makes Bay Ridge a little sweeter

Hey Bay Ridge, are you ready for Asiago Cheese Focaccia?

Panera Bread, the nationwide chain of cafes famous for its wide selection of freshly baked artisan breads, is coming to 86th Street.

Construction is nearly complete on a Panera Bread at 531 86th St., according to the restaurant’s representatives, who said they anticipate an August opening for the new eatery.

The Bay Ridge location will mark the third Panera Bread to find a home in Brooklyn. The other cafes are located on Adams Street in downtown Brooklyn and at the Kings Plaza shopping mall.

Here’s a taste of what you can expect when Panera Bread opens next month: The breads include Artisan French Bread Miche, Ciabatta, Three Cheese Bread Loaf and Sesame Semolina. The soups include Broccoli Cheddar served up in a bread bowl, Vegetarian Summer Corn Chowder Bowl and Low-Fat Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup Bowl. The entree choices include Chicken Tortellini Alfredo, Mac and Cheese and a wide variety of Panini sandwiches. There are lots of salads to choose from.

Oh, and did we mention desserts? After all, Panera Bread is a bakery-café. Bear Claw, a pastry made with an almond filling drizzled with icing and sliced almonds, is sure to be a big hit. French croissants, cherry pastry and pecan braids are among the other delicious choices.

The new bakery-café on 86th Street will offer free Wi-Fi and cozy nooks for diners to unwind. In addition, an advanced ordering option for to-go orders, called Rapid Pick-Up, will be available allowing mobile and online ordering via the Panera Mobile App or Website Link. Guests can order and pay via the app or computer either day of or with 30 days’ notice of pick-up at a pre-determined time.

Panera Bread is also bringing good news on the economic front. The bakery-cafe is looking to hire approximately 80 workers for the new location. Experience is preferred, but not required, representatives said. Candidates must be 18 years of age or older and are encouraged to apply in person at the Bay Ridge location with valid identification.

Applicants can also fill out an application online by visiting panerabread.com.

“We’re excited to announce our newest location coming to Bay Ridge this summer,” says Greg George, vice president of operations for Doherty Enterprises, Inc., the Panera Bread franchisee for Long Island. “While we look forward to bringing an array of better-for-you food options to the area, we’re most eager to staff the café with energetic individuals and offer the convenient new to-go ordering option to our busy guests.”

The new Panera Bread will be located on the 86th Street shopping strip, next door to Modell’s Sporting Goods. Tens of thousands of people visit 86th Street on weekends to shop. The commercial strip, which has a business improvement district, contains more than 100 stores located on 86th Street between Fourth Avenue and Fort Hamilton Parkway.

The Panera Bread sign was recently erected above the store, a sure sign that opening day isn’t far away. “Everyone is talking about it. It’s very exciting,” Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10, told the Brooklyn Eagle on Wednesday.

“It really is a sign that Bay Ridge is a desirable neighborhood. I think it’s going to be very successful,” Beckmann said. Beckmann, who noted that her office, at 8119 Fifth Ave. is within walking distance, said she plans to eat at the new Panera Bread.

The Bay Ridge Panera Bread will serve breakfast from 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.  from Monday to Saturday and from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Lunch and dinner are available until 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday and until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The café closes two hours earlier on Sunday.