New Panera Bread now open on South Avenue in Boardman

BOARDMAN — Cars wrapped around the drive-thru and a line of customers snaked out the door at the grand opening today of a new Panera Bread location on South Avenue.

The restaurant at 7121 South Ave. replaces Covelli Enterprises’ original Panera location on Boardman-Poland Road that opened 20 years ago.

Covelli Enterprises, headquartered in Warren and owned by Valley businessman Sam Covelli, is now the largest Panera franchisee, with more than 300 locations.

In addition to a drive-thru, the new location features an updated design and additional parking and seating.

“It’s more of a feeling that you’re in a living room than in a restaurant,” said Covelli, who was at the restaurant to greet customers today.

Panera is celebrating the opening with numerous offers and giveaways. The first 500 dine-in customers after 10 a.m. today will receive a free Panera travel mug and two weeks of free refills, with any purchase.

The first 500 drive-thru customers will receive a $5 gift card for future use with the purchase of a You-Pick-Two.

The cafe also is offering 50 percent off online orders for rapid pickup or delivery using the code BOARDMANOPENING at checkout.

As he reflected on the opening and the 20th anniversary of opening his first Panera Bread, Covelli had a message for the Mahoning Valley: “Thank you to the community.”