By Mary Frost
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN -- A new Panera Bread bakery and café — bringing freshly baked artisan breads, pastries and a complete café menu to 345 Adams St. in Downtown Brooklyn — opened on Monday and business is already brisk.
On Tuesday morning customers chattered happily over the impressive bread and pastry display (at least one even took pictures with her cell phone) and many seemed surprised to find an extensive breakfast and lunch menu in addition to the well-known baked goods.
“For opening day, business was great,” Panera’s vice president of operations Greg George told the Brooklyn Eagle. George also wondered if people from Brooklyn Heights would cross Adams Street to reach the bakery.
The lines on Tuesday moved quickly and most customers took their purchases outside.
“Most people don’t realize yet we have seating upstairs,” George said, leading this reporter up the steps to an attractive and comfortable wood-toned dining room where just a few patrons relaxed with newspapers or chatted over breakfast. The room will probably fill up when customers realize that, in addition to being a comfortable place to meet and eat, Panera offers free WiFi. A separate meeting/dining room with seating for roughly two dozen offers another free amenity to Downtown Brooklyn businesses, schools and civic groups.
Breakfast (served from 5:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. weekdays and 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekends) includes both traditional and fancy breakfast sandwiches (the Asiago, for example, includes bacon, egg and cheese on an asiago cheese bagel), along with souffles, bagels and cream cheese, oatmeal and granola.
The lunch/ dinner menu includes hot panini (“roasted turkey artichoke”), cold sandwiches (from “Napa almond chicken salad” to tuna on wheat), mac & cheese, and about a half-dozen different soups every day, including two vegetarian choices and two low-fat recipes. For the whole Panera experience, try the soup in a bread bowl – your choice of soup in a sourdough bread bowl.
Salad lovers will find more than a dozen to chose from – from salmon Caesar salad to chicken Cobb salad to the classic Greek. A combination “You Pick 2” lunch allows customers to mix and match soup, half a salad or half a sandwich.
Fruit smoothies, frozen drinks and a large variety of beverages, coffees, teas and a full espresso bar round out the menu. The extensive choices, pleasant seating areas and free WiFi almost guarantee that Panera Bread will soon become an attraction for Downtown Brooklyn shoppers, workers and students.
The store is in a strip being developed next to the Marriott Hotel by Joshua Muss. Panera will soon be joined with two other restaurants in a mini “Restaurant Row”: American BBQ and Beer Co. and Sugar and Plumm (a combination restaurant, ice cream parlor and chocolate retailer).
Weekday hours from 5:30 a.m. – 11 p.m.; weekend hours from 7 a.m. – 11 p.m.