Panera Bread may be planning to take over the Black Rock Turnpike property now occupied by Mesa restaurant, but the Town Plan and Zoning Commission found the bakery chain's request for a sign revision didn't rise to the level required by town zoning regulations.
The commission unanimously denied the St.Louis-based chain's request last month to extend the building's parapet to accommodate the Panera sign.
"It's just adding a big, green background," for the sign, TPZ Chairman Bryan LeClerc said, of Panera's request designed to allow larger letters.
Commissioner Richard Jacobs said even though "we all love Panera Bread," the sign did not conform with regulations.
Panera Bread hopes to open by this summer in a building that has housed several restaurants since Pizzeria Uno closed in 2009. Since then, the building has housed Black Rock Tavern, MacKenzies and now Mesa.
In order to open at the Lake Hills Shopping Center, managers of the shopping center, Turnpike Properties, had to get Mesa to agree to an exit deal.
The Panera Bread is one of three outlets the chain plans to open in Fairfield County this year. The others are in Westport and Norwalk. Each will have a staff of about 45 to 65 employees. There are already six Panera bakery-cafes in the county.
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