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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Panera Bakery Building Determined To Be "Memorable"

Planning Director Pushes Back:  Fast Food Restaurant Is "Memorable"

 Says Emeryville Spent $2 Million To Attract 
Fast Food Development

Emeryville spent more than $2 million on a General Plan to help lure fast food development and it's been highly successful according to Planning Director Charlie Bryant in a report released last week.  The Planning Director points to the success of the recently opened Panera Bakery building as a reason to celebrate Emeryville's uncanny ability to attract fast food restaurants.   Emeryville he says, knows how to create a memorable city and being part of Panera Corporation's family of 1500 fast food strip mall restaurants spread across the US and Canada is proof that the money recently spent on writing the General Plan was money well spent.

Mr Bryant made the glowing findings about the Panera Bakery Building in his June 'Monthly Progress Report' to the City Manager and released to the public on July 1st.  In the report, the Planning Director claims the existence of a mural depicting Emeryville history on the "back side of the building" qualifies the restaurant project as "memorable", a requirement elucidated by Emeryville's new General Plan.

Mr Bryant submitted the report to rebuff a May 29th Tattler article questioning the appropriateness of the Panera building and the mandates of Emeryville's General Plan.  He went on to insist the restaurant has "a main entrance" on 40th Street, thereby making the restaurant "pedestrian-oriented".  The restaurant has two entrances, the main entrance, a large double door on the parking lot side and the other door, effectively the back door, opens to 40th Street.  Mr Bryant says the back entrance provides access for the Park Avenue neighborhood, fulfilling the General Plan mandate that development be neighborhood enhancing.

As Emeryville's top planner, Mr Bryant was instrumental in guiding the General Plan vetting process with the citizens two years ago.  The Plan cost $2 million for consultants and the city spent probably another $2 million in compensated staff time according to a junior planner at City Hall.  Mr Bryant conducted many General Plan public meetings to engage the citizens and actively sought their ideas on how the town should be developed.  The citizens made it clear, according to Mr Bryant that more fast food development like the Panera Building is needed in Emeryville.  The Planning Director posits the Panera Building represents an unqualified success that the General Plan helped realize.

Emeryville's Mayor, Jennifer West, it should be noted, has publicly refuted Planning Director Bryant's assertion that the new Panera Bakery building is memorable.


  1. Looking forward to the Emeryville-funded tourist brochures inviting out of state visitors to Emeryville to see Panera Bread. Without a doubt, it will quickly eclipse such Bay area attractions as the Golden Gate Bridge, Muir Woods and the Winchester Mystery House.

  2. Brian: I'm confused. Do you like the Bakery or not. I don't understand why you thought the Bakery was a problem in the first place. It is in a shopping center with many other commercial businesss. Yes, they have a door on 40th Street. However, it won't be long before they discover almost everyone will drive there and use the door to the parking lot area. It is not a good practice for a retail store to have two different entraces, for security reasons. There is no real alternative to driving, and that's a fact. when was the last time you waited for AC Transit.?

  3. I’m not sure why the city allows such bad planning. Panera Bakery is memorable, but in a bad way. The front door brought me to the pick-up area and the back door got me in. I did not see the mural, that must be on the parking lot side. There is outdoor seating facing 40th St., but no one goes there due to the noise and heavy traffic pollution. When the planning commission reviewed this plan, they mainly concentrated on the color of the building and not how it would function in our community. Brilliant forethought, Not. The City and the city Staff are merely allowing these type of projects to fund their salaries, pensions, and benefits. They have no shame. One question: If Panera Bakery were unionized, would they be more desirable?, I wonder, Not.

  4. @6:24, stop waiting for AC Transit. Get on a bike.