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New Restaurant Opens Quietly In Crossroads Complex
Plenty of food is offered at the newly finished Panera Bread location, in Crossroads Shopping Center. The facility held a soft opening Sept. 3, following the Labor Day holiday. In addition to varieties of bread, the menu includes soups, salads and sandwiches. Ric McGinnis/The News
The drive-thru sees plenty of action on the first day of business at the new local Panera Bread location in the Crossroads Shopping Center, with a soft opening this past week. The manager plans a more formal grand opening ceremony once all bugs are worked out with the new operation. Ric McGinnis/The News

Shoppers in the Crossroads Shopping Center last week were pleasantly surprised to find a long awaited new restaurant/bakery open for business.

Starting with a “soft” opening on Tuesday, Sept. 3, the Panera eatery started serving patrons who dropped in — or drove by — to see what was offered there.

A soft opening is a preview opening of a service to a limited audience prior to the general public. Soft-launching a store is sometimes used to gather data or feedback regarding its operation, prior to an official grand opening, allowing adjustments to be made before publicly opening the doors.

The local manager said his staff has been training at other nearby sites before they started here, and employees from those other stores were helping staff the Riverbank location, as training continues.

The company website refers to its stores as bakery-cafés, with detailed information about online ordering, Rapid Pick-Up, delivery, and Order from My Table, that are available only in participating locations. It also lists the Riverbank phone number, 209-702-6144. Open hours are shown as 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays.

Until the Riverbank store opened, the nearest Panera Bread stores were two locations in Modesto, and one each in Turlock and Manteca.

Those unfamiliar with the Panera franchise can find information about its menus online.