In light of Grand Rapids experiencing tremendous growth in the downtown district, a new draw has sparked interest in where people enjoy gathering. What feeds your appetite? Where do you need to go for a quick business meeting? If you are at all familiar with Bread of Life LLC, the California based owner had acquired space conveniently located in Louis Campau Promenade plaza which is home to the Comerica building at 99 Monroe Ave NW, to build the newest Panera Bread location.

The Comerica building is a featured construction project in the downtown Grand Rapids area. The renovations that are occurring inside the building are ones that will help the 28 year old building revive itself. Previously, the Comerica building featured a prominent restaurant called the SkyWalk Deli. Known for being the hidden treasure in the heart of Grand Rapids, the deli was removed from the building much under protest of the local community. Although uncertain where or if the SkyWalk Deli will return the Grand Rapids Area, the focus has now turned to the popular franchise of Panera Bread.

Grand Rapids is always looking for something to create excitement and a new buzz. As the city continues to gain popularity with other outside communities, the need to have a staple restaurant was a great addition. Panera Bread is an inviting place gather, whether with friends or for business. Working in the downtown distract myself, I have seen first-hand the buzz that Panera has already generated.

The ground floor location of Panera Bread gives great access from the Promenade, along with an extended patio area for outdoor seating. If you work in the downtown area, or need to connect between buildings by the way of foot, skywalks are the place to be. Temperature controlled along with the ease of access to other business, Panera Bread understood this feature would have to stay. Convenient skywalk access will bring you in and out of the restaurant allowing you to travel either to the Plaza Towers or through to the JW Marriott, Amway or the Founders Bank & Trust building that services the popular MLive Media Group.

If you have not been able to visit the new Panera Bread, I would highly recommend the venture. The setup of the restaurant makes it very simple to enter, place your order and find your preference of seating, inside or outside, while you’re waiting to be served. The friendly staff will go out of their way to make sure your experience is one that will continue to bring you back for more. Not to miss out on the design and thought process that was put into consideration to make the restaurant pleasing to the customers eyes.

Panera Bread has made their mark to feature themselves in the downtown community. Though being a local business is extremely important and significant to the Grand Rapids community, having a wellknown franchise is also a comfort. To embrace both companies large and small into the downtown area, I think it is valid to say that Grand Rapids is a thriving community with diverse tastes. Other local business should not fear customer decline from their business but should consider the value to higher customer traffic that other places are helping to generate.

Blog post by GRAPE Social Media Contributor Ryan Elwell