Relocated Panera Bread opens Thursday outside Northgate Mall in Hixson

Apr. 22—Five days after closing the previous Panera Bread restaurant at Northgate Mall, a new Panera Bread with drive-through pickup service opens Thursday on another outparcel at Northgate only a quarter of a mile away.

The newest version of the Hixson Panera Bread, which is owned by CSC Investments in Cleveland, Tennessee, opens in a 4,000-square-foot commercial space leased from developer Bassam Issa.

The new restaurant is located near the Outback Steakhouse and next to a new Buddy’s bar-b-q that is in the same complex build by Issa.

Unlike the previous 4,478-square-foot Panera Bread site built in 2001, the new restaurant includes a drive-through window for pickup service, which has grown steadily during the pandemic.

In 2019, Issa acquired the former Firestone tire store, which shut down in 2017, and has spent the past couple of years reshaping the 3-acre lot near Highway 153 and Hixson Pike into a commercial complex for three new restaurants. Issa started developing the replacement site for Panera Bread to add drive-through service even before the COVID-19 pandemic boosted restaurant pickup service due to fears about the virus spreading in dining rooms.

“Fast-casual restaurants these days most of them feel they have to have a pickup window,” Issa said when he began the commercial development with drive-through options at both Panera Bread and Buddy’s bar-b-q.

The new drive-through restaurants in Issa’s development are among a half dozen eateries added along Highway 153 near Northgate Mall within the past couple of years, including Aubrey’s, First Watch, Mike’s Tavern and soon a Chipotle Mexican Grill.

The new Panera Bread, located at 562 Northgate Mall Drive, replaces the former site at 620 Northgate Mall Drive and will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p..m Monday through Friday and from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Panera Bread Co., operates more than 2,000 company-owned and franchised bakery-café restaurants in the United States and Canada, including area stores in downtown Chattanooga, Hixson and Cleveland, Tennessee and in Fort Oglethorpe, Dalton and Rome, Georgia.

The vacated Panera restaurant building at Northgate is owned by Sherman Oaks, California- based 1130 South Rexford LLC, according to the Hamilton County Assessor of Property. No plans have yet been announced for the old restaurant site.

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