Hey Bungalower, I noticed a lot of construction on the Panera Bread building and now I’m hearing the restaurant is going to close. Do you know anything?” – Brent

UPDATE: Jenna Brodkowski, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Panera Bread, has stated that the store closure is because the corporate offices decided not to renew the lease, not because of a lack of a drive thru. Panera will be opening a new location in Mount Dora, with a drive thru, as well as relocating “two or three” restaurants in the near future. Brodkowski could not disclose the locations to be moved at this time. 

The Eo Inn and Panera Bread both share the 1920’s-built building at 227 North Eola Drive. The Eo Inn, which occupies the upper stories and back of the building, is in the process of getting a new roof, hence the equipment and construction that Brent noticed.

However, even though the construction has nothing to do with the restaurant below, Panera Bread is indeed closing in 2017. Panera Corporate isn’t answering our calls at the moment, but management at the Lake Eola location confirmed that it will be closing sometime soon, though they couldn’t give us any timeline.

According to a company insider that we did speak to, who wished to remain nameless, Panera Corporate is pushing their restaurants to add drive thru options to their services but since the Lake Eola site did not have that option corporate made the decision to pull out of the Downtown location and look somewhere else. According to the same informant, sales was not a factor in closing as the restaurant had been performing admirably, especially the catering department. This has not been confirmed by a spokesperson from Panera.

The 5,200 SF space is listed on LoopNet at $30/SF/year and is said to be available to lease in April 2017. This is apparently the first time this space has been available since 1998.

Anyone interested in leasing the space can contact the listing broker Patricia Sullivan of Olde Town Brokers at [email protected]. Sullivan told us that they’ve already been approached by several well-known restaurants but that the owner of the building is trying to find the perfect fit for the hotel and the immediate neighborhood.

Scroll down for a look at the floor plan.



Brendan O'Connor

Editor in Chief of Bungalower.com

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  1. So convenient for us to walk for a nice bagel or soup and sammie. And, sit outside. Will miss this Panera.

  2. Remember when this building was boarded up? It was run down and abandoned, think it used to be a youth hostel. That was obviously a long time ago and they did make the building beautiful again, the hotel is amazing but it seems insane to think they would ask $13k per month to rent this space. It’s at the furthest point from all the foot traffic the lake could possibly provide.

  3. Eddie Nickell My issue is when corporate makes an app where a customer can choose a field called “special instructions” and no-one at the other end of the app reads the simple request of “please include butter & butter knife in to-go bag” (which should be common sense anyway for a bread company)….& after a consistent failure, after bringing it to local store mgmt attention several times….yelp is all we have left.

  4. Eddie Nickell The customer is always wrong … wait, maybe the truth is in the middle. Or maybe it just costs too much to properly train the team ..or to hire the qualified.

  5. That is a stupid reason to close it. The location at the fashion square mall has no drive thru either.

  6. I don’t think I’d use a Panera drive through. They take too long to fill an order (not a criticism). I’d much rather sit down with an iced tea and relax while waiting. Plus you use real plates when in the restaurant. Drivethru encourages driving and disposable plates/silver. Boo.

  7. They’re so worried about homeless people taking plastic knives/spoons/forks that they hide them behind the counter & make you stand in line to ask for a butter knife. Also, the butter is only available at the soda fountain where you will stand in another line due to everyone filling their drinks. It’s time this sandwich shop be shut down. I feel a Yelp.com review coming U0001f602U0001f602U0001f602

  8. the rent is going to be nearly 14 thousand a month? wow that’s expensive and trust me if they were doing so good and making money they would stay put … lets be real here.. that area is not an easy restaurant market. I should know I sold 2 locations in that area .

  9. Ethan Marc – a Panera Spokesperson said, “We kept getting complaints about not putting a disposable butter knives in our grab and go orders at our pickup box. Since we are unable to rectify the situation, the only solution was to close.”

  10. If they’re closing because they don’t have a drive through then the days are numbered for Dr Phillips, SODO and Fashion Square locations