Sure enough, right opposite the entrance to the center's Any Mountain store is a Panera Bread Bakery-Café. I knew about Panera from my many trips to South Florida, mainly because they offer free wireless internet in their cafés. In the last few years, Panera has opened several locations in Northern California. I've noticed one in the new Nut Tree shops in Vacaville just off Highway 80.
But, I've never been to a Panera until this week. Inside, there is lots of seating spread over a large interior space. Also there is seating outdoors at the Willows location. At 9:30 a.m. on a Tuesday morning, the place was bustling. Groups of business people were having breakfast meetings. Some customers were in there buying a sandwich or salad to take with them for lunch later in the day.
I ordered a cup of hot tea and a Tart Cherry Scone, sat down, and enjoyed my yummy sweet breakfast pastry and a lot of interesting people watching. Before I left, I bought a loaf of freshly-baked bread which we enjoyed at home for several days. Each day they feature a changing selection of soups, served with your choice of French or Whole Grain baguette, chips or an apple. In addition to salads, sandwiches, and soups, which are served througout the day, after 4 p.m., Panera offeres made-to-order Crispani, their version of individual pizzas.
The Panera in Concord is open daily until 9 p.m. Next time I want a light dinner after a movie in Concord or Pleasant Hill, I plan to stop here. The Concord Panera is at 1975 Diamond Blvd.; 925-825-1582.
To find a Panera near you, check their web site at http://www.panerabread.com.