Panera Bread today announced a franchise agreement with Pangenera, LLC for expansion in California. The group plans to develop 15 bakery-cafes in San Mateo, Santa Cruz, and Santa Clara counties by 2010. The first bakery-cafe in the area will open in Gilroy, California.

Pangenera’s Jeff Burrill brings significant experience in the quick-casual dining segment to Panera Bread. In his five years as an award-winning franchisee with Baja Fresh, Burrill’s group was rated one of the top operators. The group exceeded their development commitment by building nine restaurants in a four-year period. “We are confident that we will quickly establish Panera Bread as the leading bakery-cafe on the West Coast,” says Mike Kupstas, senior vice president and chief franchise officer of Panera Bread. “Pangenera’s experience in real estate investment and operations offers Panera Bread a strong advantage as we expand in the highly competitive Northern California market.”

“We are proud to be a part of Panera Bread’s expansion in the South Bay area,” Burrill says. “We look forward to bringing Panera Bread’s tradition of handcrafted, artisan breads to the people of San Mateo, Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties.”

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