A prominent building on a busy street corner in Walnut Creek finally has a new tenant.
Panera Bread opened its doors Monday morning in the former Hollywood Video store in the Countrywood shopping center.
The building at the corner of Bancroft Road and Treat Boulevard had been vacant for more than a year after Hollywood Video closed up shop.
Rob Lew, the Panera Bread store's manager, said the business had a busy first day.
"I think people like the environment here," he said. "They, of course, love the bread and the atmosphere."
The new store employs 50 people. It has indoor and outdoor seating as well as a drive-through window.
The menu includes sandwiches, soups, salads, bread, pastries, cookies, smoothies and coffee. Most lunch items are between $5 and $8.
There is free wi-fi, too.
The Panera Bread is open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday as well as 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday.
It'll compete with Noah's Bagels and the Starbucks in the Countrywood center. Both are well-established. Noah's closes at 5 p.m. while Starbucks shuts it doors at 8 p.m.
On Monday afternoon, three friends were enjoying a post-lunch coffee outside Panera Bread. Two of the men worked in the nearby Shadelands Office Park while the third came from downtown.
Kaleb Paddock said he liked the variety on the menu.
"I really like it. I like the lunch options," he said.
Alan Krueger, who had ridden his bike from downtown to the canal trail to get there, said he also thought the prices were reasonable.
"You can get out for under 10 dollars," he said.
Brian Smith liked the convenience.
"It's a great location. They'll do well here," he said.
Panera Bread, which is based in Missouri, was established in 1981. It now has 1,468 company-owned and franchise-operated bakery-cafes in 40 states and Canada.