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Panera Bread set to open Dec. 22

The building for the new Panera Bread is near completion in Keizer Station. (KEIZERTIMES/Andrew Jackson)

Of the Keizertimes

Panera Bread in Keizer Station is opening earlier than expected.

The bakery-style café was originally slated to open in late January, but two people confirmed to the Keizertimes the opening date is now Dec. 22.

Angie Spinner, marketing coordinator with Panera Bread, confirmed the date in an e-mail.

“I heard back from our development department, and this café is currently scheduled to open on Dec. 22,” Spinner wrote.

That matches the updated timeline received recently by Nate Brown, director of Community Development for Keizer.

“It’s going to depend on when the contractor gets work done,” Brown said. “Dec. 22 is the date Donahue Schriber (Keizer Station owner) gave to us. Construction projects always depend on so many variables.”

Sam Litke, senior planner for Keizer, also heard the Dec. 22 date and said the building has been going up quickly, with actual building construction starting around Labor Day.

Panera Bread is located on Keizer Station Boulevard, across the street from Men’s Wearhouse and Old Navy.

“It looks like the exterior is complete,” Litke said last week. “There is a lot of movement. It’s going along pretty fast. Panera said they wanted to open before Christmas. A number of people have been waiting with anticipation.”

Panera Bread’s menu includes sandwiches, soups, pastries, bagels and more than a dozen fresh bread varieties.

Brown sees the early opening as a positive.

“It’s certainly not a bad sign, that’s for sure,” Brown said. “Early in a project people tend to be conservative. It’s better to underpromise and overdeliver.”

Meanwhile, Brown confirmed a permit was filed with the city Nov. 21 for an Outback Steakhouse, also slated for Keizer Station.

“We have the plans and permit applications came in,” Brown said. “The county has to do building inspection plans and we have to do a review. If all goes well, it’s about a four-week or so process. The holidays don’t help in that regard.”

Two company officials with Outback said they would not be able to comment until January. The Florida-based restaurant chain currently has a location in Salem.

According to plans submitted for review last week, the 5,133 square foot Outback would be on Keizer Station Boulevard. The valuation on the permit was more than $700,000.

“The city will do the review, compare it with the comprehensive plan and then send it to the Marion County Building Department,” Litke said. “They review it, then it will come back here. If everything is correct on it, it would be a minimum of 21 days for the review. A (permit) could probably be issued before Christmas.”

Litke and Brown both noted an Outback would be the first “sit down” type of restaurant in Keizer Station.

“No timeline has been given,” Litke said. “But a lot of people have been wanting something like that.”