History shows adding drive-thrus at Panera locations lowers carry-outs
In front of the Shiloh Planning Commission on Monday night, Panera Bread representatives made their case for less parking spaces at its Green Mount Crossing location so a drive-thru can be built. Shiloh Planning Commission members unanimously voted 5-0, in favor of the variance requests.
Submitted Nov. 14, St. Louis Bread Co.’s variance application is requesting the elimination of one of the loading spaces and a reduction in parking spaces for dine-in customers from 104 to 98 — all to make room for a drive-thru.
A village ordinance requires a total of 104 spaces when considering square footage, number of restaurant seats and the total number of employees.
Currently, the dedicated loading space is near the dumpster enclosure on the outskirts of the parking lot, which shouldn’t cause issue because deliveries to the eatery only occur before 5 a.m. and after 9 p.m. when there’s a lull in peak business, according to Dana Link, project engineer for Thouvenot, Wade & Moerchen Inc. Link made a presentation about the proposed project during a public hearing held prior to the commission meeting.
The drive-thru will accommodate eight vehicles at a time on the west side of the building, Link said.
There were no other public comments regarding the project except for Michael Turnquist, a Panera representative, who answered commission member questions.
“We are very proud to support Panera expanding its services at its Shiloh location,” Turnquist said.
The 4,990-square-foot Shiloh location sits at 3120 Green Mount Crossing, next to Beauty Brands, a 6,000 square-foot store.
Turnquist said Beauty Brands has “reviewed the plan and approved the plan.”
“Beauty Brands only receives deliveries by UPS or FedEx and that’s through the front door,” Turnquist said.
A representative of Beauty Brands could not be reached for comment.
“We strongly support St. Louis Bread Company’s proposed variance,” Dan Capps, of Green Mount Crossing LLC stated in a letter to the village board Nov. 10.
Capps said a drive-thru will help reduce the parking spaces customers need anyway.
Howard Steffey, commission member, said, “a drive-thru could definitely help with less parking too.”
Link said the express feature will not conflict with its dine-in service quality and experience because dedicated prep lines and staff will be added.
If a drive-thru is installed, the outdoor patio area on the east side of the building will be eliminated to add some additional parking spaces. Some median and parking lot modifications are planned, as well.
The Shiloh store is open from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. or 10 p.m., depending on the day of the week, with a “significant” portion — 45 percent — of sales being carry-out orders during peak business hours and through out the day, Link said.
Turnquist said, peak hours are early breakfast hours and noon to 1 p.m.
In addition to Belleville and Fairview Heights, Edwardsville, Alton and Collinsville St. Louis Bread Cos. have also had drive-thru features added to their facilities, Link said.
“History shows that when they add a drive-thru to one of their facilities that … it actually drops their pick-up orders to only 16 percent, so you’re loosing all of those people who are coming, parking, going into the store,” Link said.
Belleville St. Louis Bread Co.
It’s been a year since St. Louis Bread Co. relocated from its downtown Belleville location, 113 E. Main St., to 5720 Belleville Crossing at the Belleville Crossing shopping center at Illinois 15 and Frank Scott Parkway.
Previously, the company cited reasons for the relocation such as serving in a larger, more updated interior space for guests with more parking, a drive-thru and features like Rapid Pick-Up and kiosk ordering inside the self-contained building.
The Belleville Crossing location opened December 2016 after the downtown Belleville location closed.
Business hours are 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. with about 53 parking spaces available.
Fairview Heights St. Louis Bread Co.
St. Louis Bread Co. also has a location in Fairview Heights at 5917 North Illinois St., and it is equipped with a drive-thru. The restaurant shares the building with other businesses. It is open 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. with just over 30 parking spaces.
Panera Bread Company operates as St. Louis Bread Co. in the St. Louis metropolitan area.