In two days, St. Louis Bread Co., the popular downtown eatery, will close up shop in favor of a new location across town. Area residents expressed disappointment and sadness over the weekend at seeing it go.
Panera Bread, a St. Louis-based company, announced on Wednesday it would close the downtown location at 113 E. Main St. as of Dec. 6, saying a new Belleville Crossing location would provide more space and new dining options.
Connie and Kevin Jung, lifelong residents of Belleville, were downtown shopping on Saturday. They said it’s a shame to see any downtown business close, let alone a popular staple like the Bread Co.
“I’d rather see it stay here and keep downtown vital,” Kevin Jung said. His wife agreed, saying they’ve seen downtown businesses ebb and flow over the years. But recently, she said it seems like more shops, bars and restaurants have moved in, making downtown more important to the community.
“You hate to see anything go,” Connie Jung said.
Kevin Jung speculated that Bread Co.’s new location in the Belleville Crossing shopping center will see increased foot traffic and profit margins.
The Bierman family was also downtown on Saturday doing some shopping. Tracey Bierman, a wife and mom of two girls, said she and her husband prefer the downtown Bread Co. because most other dining options have bars.
“It’s one of the few kid-friendly places downtown,” Bierman said.
Amy Becker, of Belleville, said the restaurant was the “glue that holds downtown together.” She said the old men who often meet over coffee there will have to find somewhere else to go.
“There’s no substitution for that,” Becker said.
When asked if she would visit the new location, Becker’s sister, Jenny, said she would prefer to visit The Abbey, a locally-owned business, if she goes out that direction. She said she hopes a small local business will fill Bread Co.’s spot downtown.
“Hopefully they find something,” she said.
Mayor Mark Eckert said on Wednesday he talked this week to the building owner, Edwardsville attorney Randy Gori, about potential new businesses for the building. The mayor said there are “several leads” about possible tenants.
“There’s definitely interest in the building for bringing something back,” Eckert said previously.
The new location at 5801 Belleville Crossing is scheduled to open on Sunday, the company said in an email to the News-Democrat. All employees at the downtown location will have the opportunity to work at the new location, the company said.