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A Fresh Batch Of Jobs In Plainview

A popular bakery-café aiming to give visitors that warm, fresh-from-the-oven feeling is about to rise in Plainview.

Panera Bread will open its first drive-thru café on Long Island on Monday, Nov. 18 at 1082 Old Country Rd., just west of Manetto Hill Road and the Plainview Diner. The Plainview location, which is already hiring, will offer its regular menu of sandwiches, soups and seasonal selection — with the added convenience of a drive-thru, unique to the franchise’s Long Island stores.

“People are in a hurry, but they still want to eat right,” said Greg George, Vice President of Operations for Doherty Enterprises, franchisee for the Long Island Panera Bread cafes. “Whether you’re a mom with a car full of kids and want to get a salad or you’ve been chosen to run out and pick up lunch for the office, Panera can now offer the added convenience of drive up and go without compromising taste or quality.”

Like other Panera Bread cafes, the Plainview location will still offer a relaxing environment inside its four walls, with cozy nooks, free Wi-Fi and food choices that aim to offset the tendency of on-the-run eaters to opt for quick, but unhealthy, meal options.

Old Bethpage resident Scott Grann, who works in real estate and spends many meal times behind the wheel, said he hopes Panera’s healthier menu proves to be a better alternative to usual drive-thru choices in the area.

“Eating on the run around here usually means a quick stop for garbage and grease from one of the usual places,” he said. “It’s that or pizza. And I’ve eaten enough pizza to last the rest of my life. I’ll give Panera a shot.”

The new Panera is currently undergoing finishing touches on a spot previously occupied by Burger King, which closed its doors more than a year ago. Plainview Chamber of Commerce president Gary Epstein said Panera could also bring some healthy business to a stretch of Old Country Road he believes needs some reinvigoration.

“Bringing Panera Bread to the Plainview-Old Bethpage community will reinvigorate our main street” and bring back to life a small stretch of Old Country Road that has been dormant for some time,” said Epstein. “Along with a modernized New York Community Bank, all we need now is some movement on the lot that remains between a new ProHealth and Panera Bread. The Chamber, and its 156 members continue to work hard to make our community a better place to live, work and play.”   

A Panera spokeswoman said the cafe will bring 60 new jobs to Plainview. For some residents, this benefit of a newly opened business is the most important aspect of all. Bill Jerri, who grew up in Plainview, said new jobs — even seemingly ordinary restaurant jobs — are important to the health of any community.

“You want to see growth in your community,” he said. “The worst thing to see is empty store fronts. That means less people are working and less people are able to survive in the area. You don’t want people leaving, so there needs to be more jobs. And every single new job counts.”

But one Old Bethpage resident said he does not plan on visiting Plainview’s new Panera any time soon. Joe Nappi said he prefers to support local small businesses as opposed to national chains.

“I’m sure it will be a popular spot, but I’ll stick with my mom and pop delis over another overpriced chain,” he said. “I guess it beats Burger King, though.”