From one end of the Post Road to the other, Panera Bread has Westport covered.
The St. Louis-based quick, casual, breakfast/soup/salad/panini and free WiFi chain already has a 4-year-old outlet on the Norwalk line, just past Whole Foods.
Its newest location — the company’s 1674th — opened this morning on the Southport border. It’s in the shopping center across from Shake Shack.
It was a soft opening — no big announcement, not even balloons out front — but a few dozen customers wandered in by noon. They found plenty of space — with an all-season patio, it’s 300 square feet larger than the Norwalk store — and a welcoming atmosphere.
Monica Gallegos, a marketing trainer for Panera Bread, was on hand to tout the brand. Her favorite menu items are a cinnamon roll for breakfast, and a soba noodle salad with shrimp for lunch.
The district manager — with the perfect bread name of Bryan Baker — says that each night, all unused products are donated to local non-profits and food banks.
(Panera Bread is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.)