Panera Bread will open its first Ventura bakery-cafe on Saturday, October 8, co-owned by former USC All-American and NFL football star and current ESPN broadcaster Keyshawn Johnson. The newest bakery-cafe is located at 4910 Telephone Road in Ventura, CA. This is the sixth location to open in the Central Coast area.  

With its identity rooted in handcrafted, freshly-baked, artisan bread, Panera is committed to providing great tasting, quality food that people can trust.  Highlighted by antibiotic-free chicken, whole grain bread, select organic and all-natural ingredients and a menu with zero grams added trans-fat, Panera's bakery-cafe selection offers flavorful, wholesome offerings.  The menu includes a variety of year-round favorites to complement seasonal items and breads baked fresh daily in each bakery-cafe by skilled bakers.  The new bakery-cafe offers a warm and welcoming environment including intimate seating areas, comfortable chairs, a community table and free WiFi Internet access.  

"My partners and I couldn't be more enthusiastic about Panera Bread opening its doors to the beautiful Central Coast community of Ventura," said Keyshawn Johnson, Chief Executive Officer, First Picks Bread Company, a Panera Bread Area Developer and franchisee. "Ventura Gateway is a special retail center and our hope is that it will become the community's gathering place where people can enjoy delicious and wholesome food in a casual and relaxed environment. The concept is a natural fit for this area and it will be well received by this community."

Johnson, along with an elite group of athlete partners and their management team are especially proud to contribute to the economic vitality within these trade areas. A new Panera Bread typically creates 50 to 75 new jobs within the communities they serve. That aspect of the business is especially gratifying to Miami Dolphin and First Picks Member, Reggie Bush; "Investing in Panera Bread is not only a solid investment for me, it's also something I can be proud of. We create new jobs and opportunities from the start of construction all the way to the opening of the doors. It's great to see that energy along with the enthusiasm of so many young people who are working in a cafe that I helped to develop."

Panera Bread Ventura is committed to serving the community through its participation in two charitable programs.  Through the Day End Dough-Nation program, unsold bakery products are donated to local food banks.  Additionally it will support the Community Breadbox program which ensures that donations made at Panera Bread support the Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Tri-Counties, which First Picks matches by 50 percent.

For its VIP opening party on October 5, the bakery-cafe will host an event to benefit the organization with a silent auction and the sale of star cookies.  "The support we have received from Panera Bread has been invaluable in helping Make-A-Wish Tri-Counties grant the wishes of children in our community," said Shanna Wasson-Taylor, Executive Director, Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Tri-Counties.

In partnership with 805 Living and Herzog Winery, the grand opening event will feature selections of the bakery-cafe menu paired with Herzog wine.  "Our sustainable premium wines pair well with fresh foods, like Panera's sandwiches and salads," said Herzog winemaker Joe Hurliman. "It will be terrific to have them and their offerings in the neighborhood, as well as their support of our local charities."