Panera most likely coming to Derby Marketplace

UPDATED — The dining options continue to grow in Derby.

Panera Bread franchisee Randy Simon is in negotiations to open a Panera in front of the Dillons Marketplace at Derby Marketplace at 71st and Rock.

“It’s not a lock yet,” Simon says.

It’s close, though.

Simon and his brother, Bill, and business partner Scott Redler have a Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers at Derby Marketplace.

“The Freddy’s has done very well there,” Randy Simon says.

Until now, Simon says the lack of potential daytime business concerned him. Simon always figured nights and weekends would do well, but he says Panera thrives on weekday breakfasts and lunches. He thinks there’s now enough business to support it.

If the deal happens, this would make the 32nd Panera for his Original Bread company, and it will be the first with a drive-through.

Simon wishes he could do the same at his other restaurants.

“I keep trying to figure out how I could do it at the Rock Road location.”

Look for more details as soon as the Derby deal closes.

The possibility of the new Panera pleases one fanatic in particular.

Rev. Wayne Schmid, pastor of St. Mary Catholic Church, is known to drive to Wichita for Panera four or five times a week, often when he’s making hospital rounds.

Sometimes, though, it’s only for the food.

“Father Schmid’s prayers have finally been answered,” Simon says.

He says Schmid, in an effort to convince him to bring a Panera, said he’d help get the word out.

“He tells me he’ll market (it) from the podium down there,” Simon says.

Schmid admits to his addiction, but he says he’ll have to be discreet about doing anything from the pulpit.

Still, he says, “Oh, I’ll let people know.”