The Douglasville Planning and Development Committee approved the development plans for the city's new Panera Bread, which will be located in the old Joe's Crab Shack at 2868 Chapel Hill Road.

The plan calls for the existing building, which is roughly 6,000 square feet, to be reduced to 5,000 square feet by taking off a portion of the rear end and the front entry of the building.

"We are going to take off the somewhat funky exterior and replace it," said G. Hamilton Williams, a representative from GreenbergFarrow, which works with Panera.

The building will incorporate a drive-through and parking is expected to remain the same.

"The main goal is really to change it ... to a more invigorated area for the shoppping center and commmuntiy as a whole," said Williams.

Panera is expected to open before the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

"It's taking a vacant building and putting a nice restaurant there," said Douglasville Community and Development Services Director Jonathan Lynn. "It's a win-win."

Lynn confirmed to the Sentinel last Thursday that Panera Bread was coming to Douglasville.

Panera is known for its fresh breads, high quality sandwiches and soups and pastries.

On its website, Panera says "100 percent of its food is 100 percent clean."

"Food as it should be," the site reads. "That's food we think tastes better, feels better, does better. It's clean food. Food without artificial preservatives, sweeteners, flavors or colors from artificial sources."

The Joe's Crab Shack has been closed since September of 2016. The site for Douglasville Panera Bread was initially a Rio Bravo Mexican restaurant that was constructed around the time Arbor Place Mall was built.

The two closest Panera locations to Douglasville are in West Cobb and the Vinings area, according to Lynn.

As of September 27, 2016, there were 2,024 bakery-cafes in 46 states, the District of Columbia, and in Ontario Canada operating under the Panera Bread, Saint Louis Bread Co. and Paradise Bakery & Café names, delivering fresh, authentic artisan bread served in a warm environment by engaging associates, the Panera website notes.

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