Some Wichita Paneras getting drive-throughs, remodels, new ordering systems

New Market Square Panera Bread asst. manager Chris Dumbauld, rings up  customers Jackie Ehresman (L) and her sister Joan Bauer of Colorado Springs.     photo by brian cornLocal Panera franchisee Randy Simon has been busy working on plans to reconfigure some of his stores in Wichita to add drive-through windows and help simplify the ordering system. By this summer, Wichitans will begin noticing those changes, he said.

The plans include a remodel for the Central and Hillside store and the addition of drive-through windows at both the Rock Road and Ridge Road stores. Some of the locations may close down for up to five days early this summer to complete construction, but none will be closed at the same time, Simon said.

Following is a look at some of Simon’s summer plans:

Panera in College Hill, 3333 E. Central: Simon has determined that a drive-through will not work at the Central and Hillside Panera, but the store will get a significant remodel over the summer, both on the interior and exterior. When it’s done, the College Hill Panera also will test out the chain’s new “Panera 2.0”  ordering system, which allows customers to order online with their mobile devices or with touch-screen tablets in the store. Customers who aren’t comfortable with the new ordering system still will be able to order their food the way they always have, Simon said.

Panera at 1605 N. Rock Road: Simon is in the midst of final negotiations and design approval to add a drive-through to this location, which he thinks he can complete by July 4. The Rock Road Panera also will adopt the new Panera 2.0 ordering method.

Panera at 420 S. Ridge Road: Wichita’s newest Panera, which is attached to Freddy’s near Ridge and Maple, also will get a drive-through, though its cramped lot is presenting challenges. Simon says he’s working on getting additional parking for the restaurant and considering an addition to the south side of the restaurant that would add space onto the dining room. The drive-through would be on the east side of the restaurant and could be the type of double stall design that has helped the neighboring Freddy’s make a drive-through work on the small lot.

I’ll keep you updated as plans and dates are finalized.