Rumors have been flying lately about certain retailers, restaurant chains and other businesses planning to expand to Duluth.
Some are true. Some aren’t. I could spend a good part of my work week just checking out these rumors. So, if you know anything for sure, Iâ€™d sure like to hear about it at email@example.com
Among the rumors is that Panera Bread is coming. While it could be true, my efforts to get to an actual person with this mega corporation to confirm or quash this rumor have been futile. Many calls are out. All unreturned.
The national chain of bakery-cafes (serving up sandwiches, soups,Â and salads) has nearly 1,400 locations in 40 states.
Sure, theyâ€™ve talked to them, says Beth Wentlaff, president of CMRA which manages commercial properties in the Duluth area.
“Weâ€™ve worked to get them,” she said. “We have offered them many and many spaces. We reach out to them constantly,Â all of them.”
For it’sÂ not just Panera CMRA has courted but other chains as well.
“We do a lot of work trying to get (businesses here),” Wentlaff said. “A lot of them would love to come.”
But chains like Panera sell franchises.
“We talk to people who have shown interest in the past,” she said. “We contact them to see if thatâ€™s in their plans, if itâ€™s the right fit.”
So far, sheâ€™s not had any takers. And she hasn’t heard that Panera was coming.
“Same thing with a Dunkin’ Donuts franchise,” she said. “Lots of people would be glad to bring them in, but the criteria they give… Oh, my goodness.â€
And thatâ€™s the problem.
If you want to open a Panera Bread franchise as a little family business, forget it. Panera isnâ€™t interested in single developments.
“Panera wants to develop market areas. It typically requires the new franchise holder to open 15 bakery/cafes within six years. They must have a net worth of at least $7.5 million and liquid assets of at least $3 million. They must have experience in multi-unit restaurant ownership, have real estate experience in the market to be developed and have the infra-structure and resources to meet Panera’s aggressive development schedule.
So…Â any takers?