Panera Bread Company today announced an agreement with the first of two planned developers in Arizona. The new franchise group will develop 15 Panera Bread bakery-cafes in the counties of Maricopa, Yavapai, and Coconino, Arizona by 2011.

Panera’s new Arizona franchisee, Steven J. Morris, is a former McDonald’s owner/operator. Morris has 15 years of experience in the food service industry, previously owning and operating eight McDonald’s Restaurants in the Denver area.

“Steve Morris brings extensive experience in franchising, food service, and business development to Panera Bread,” says Mike Kupstas, senior vice president and chief franchise officer of Panera Bread. “We believe that Morris’s commitment to operational excellence will help him establish Panera Bread as a leader in Arizona.”

“I am confident in Panera Bread’s franchise structure and know that the bakery-cafe concept will connect with customers ,” Morris says. “I am thrilled to be part of Panera Bread’s expansion into this exciting market and I am confident that the people of Arizona will quickly recognize the truly unique experience we have to offer.”

News, Sandwiches, Panera Bread