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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


University’s Paradise Bakery to open doors as Panera Bread this summer

Amber Ramirez

Paradise Bakery, located in Main Gate Square, offers a variety of food, including soups, salads, and sandwiches. In addition to changes to the menu, the atmosphere will undergo renovations as well.

Always bustling at lunch time with students who want to stick close to campus, Paradise Bakery is a staple when it comes to food near the university. The Paradise chain was acquired by Panera Bread in 2007 and is set to transform into one this summer. The restaurant will close for renovations and reopen in time for the influx of students in the beginning of the fall semester.

“Mostly I’m excited for it,” said Paradise Supervisor and barista Alex Aldrich. “We have had a lot of mixed feedback from customers, some people are really excited about it, but I think most people are bummed because we are the only Paradise left in Tucson.”

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Paradise has already begun slowly transitioning by adding more and more of the Panera Bread items to their menu. The menu will continue to shift during the semester, looking more like what it will become in the fall.

“We are moving toward that goal of clean food and a little bit different atmosphere,” said manager Sarah Ledesma. “They are going to have lots of healthy options, a menu that rotates with the seasons.”

All of the food will be organic, cage-free, free range and preservative-free, one of the main pillars of the Panera Bread brand.

“Panera’s clean menu can benefit a lot of students lives,” Ledesma said. “Probably so much of their life is fast food and things like that, but this is fast healthy food.”

Political science senior Jaquelyn Richards eats at Paradise about once every two weeks because she enjoys the healthier options. 

“They have really good salads, so whenever I want a salad I come here,” she said. “It’s much cheaper than Core.”

The summer’s renovations will not only change the food, but also bring a big change to the look of the restaurant. The warm color scheme and cozy, but arguably old fashioned wooden decor, will be switched out for a more modern look.

“I do like the atmosphere in here,” Richards said. “But I usually don’t sit in here when I eat here, I usually take it with me.” 

She, like many students, is usually too busy to sit and eat in a restaurant, so the quicker turnaround time will be of benefit.

“I’m exited for the change,” Aldrich said. “Its going to be a completely different dynamic, a whole new store.”

Other advancements will be made in order to make the restaurant more efficient and cut waiting time both in line and in waiting for food.

“We are going to transition by the end of 2017 into a kind of Panera 2.0, a very cool concept where they have kiosks to make things faster, they have rapid pick ups for customers,” Ledesma said. “So it will kind of enhance the kids lifestyles here.”

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The system will make the process of ordering and receiving food much faster, which is great for busy students, but it will alter the friendly feel of the restaurant.

“We are going to have a closed line, so not interacting with customers as much,” Aldrich said.

During the summer renovations, the employees will be trained at one of the current four Panera Bread locations in Tucson.

“There was a big concern within the line employees when we first got our new owners, like are they going to try to hire a whole new staff, whats going to go on, are we going to lose our jobs?” Aldrich said. “But the owners have been amazing, keeping people on, keeping us happy.”

According to Ledesma, “Everything about the cookies is staying.”

Follow Tirion Morris on Twitter.

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