Panera announced an agreement with Covelli Enterprises to co-develop the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Ontario, for Panera Bread. Covelli, through its affiliate Canadall ULC, has aggressive plans for expansion in the GTA including two or three new bakery-cafes in the communities of Mississauga/Oakville and Vaughn in 2011. 

Panera Bread ULC, Panera’s Canadian affiliate, currently operates bakery-cafes in Richmond Hill, Mississauga, and Thornhill and also plans to open additional cafes in 2011.

Covelli has a strong history of developing and operating bakery-cafes in U.S. markets, but the new Ontario bakery-cafes will be Covelli’s first Panera franchise operations in Canada.

“Canadians are savvy, educated customers who truly understand and appreciate quality and excellent value,” says Sam Covelli, owner and operator of Covelli Enterprises.  “Panera Bread is a true innovator, and I’m thrilled to help bring Panera’s great food, exceptional service, and warm, welcoming environment to Ontario communities.

“Panera has been extremely well received by Canadians travelling to our cafes in the U.S. over the years,” Covelli says. “We see a tremendous growth opportunity in the greater Toronto area.”

“Covelli Enterprises has an outstanding track record and reputation for developing markets and operating Panera Bread bakery-cafes. We look forward to working with the Covelli team on their pending openings and future projects,” says Mike Kupstas, SVP, chief franchise officer, Panera Bread.   

Each new bakery-cafe location will represent approximately 40 new jobs for the community in which it is located. Panera LLC also plans to construct a new Fresh Dough Facility to service the Ontario market, which will employ between 60-120 people. The company is currently scouting potential sites for the facility, which it plans to open in late 2011 or early 2012.

“We’re very excited to leverage the strength and experience of the Covelli franchise group to co-develop this market and bring our fresh artisan bread and high quality food selections to more Canadians,” says Bill Moreton, CEO and president, Panera Bread.  “We plan to continue to develop the Ontario market and expand over the next several years.”

Denise Lee Yohn: QSR's Marketing Guru, Growth, News, Panera Bread