Panera holds grand opening, presents $3,175 check to Serve & Connect

Panera manager Kayla cuts ribbon at Tuesday’s grand opening. Karamie Sullivan photos.

Panera representatives and employees gathered at the new Roberts Branch Parkway location Tuesday morning to officially cut their ribbon, and present a special check to one local non-profit.

Panera’s Marketing Coordinator Danielle Covelli began by saying how thrilled she is that the business is expanding in the Columbia community. “This is a great city and we have made amazing and lasting relationships just in a year.  We’re very thankful to be here” she said.

Covelli noted that January was not just important because of the newest store’s grand opening, but it was the start of a new partnership with local non-profit organization Serve & Connect.

“Serve & Connect was our round up partner for the month of January at all seen of our Columbia/Lexington cafes. Customers could come into any of our cafes and round up their order total to the next dollar for a local cause,” she explained.  All Panera locations raised a collective $3,175 for the organization, which exists to create positive relations between police officers and the communities they serve.

Serve & Connect Director of Operations David Laird said the donation is greatly appreciated. “It means so much in terms of seeing how the community has come out to support the work that we’re trying to do,” he said. “We’re really trying to rebuild and transform the aspects of police and community, together.”

According to Laird, the money will all be going to one program the organization created: “These dollars are specifically going toward our North Columbia youth empowerment initiative, to provide a new and positive atmosphere just for the youth in the region,” he said. The initiative is geared toward the 29203 area.

There was a reception inside following the check presentation and ribbon cutting. The new Midlands Panera is located at 1321 Roberts Branch Parkway, off Killian Road.

Categories: Business, Columbia, Richland County