Panera Bread will open its first Santa Barbara bakery-cafe on Saturday, March 3, co-owned by former USC All-American and NFL football star, and current ESPN broadcaster Keyshawn Johnson.  The newest bakery-cafe is located in La Cumbre Plaza at 3851 State Street in Santa Barbara, CA. This is the seventh 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. 

"Panera Bread is a brand that fits so well with the California life style. Good food, great ingredients, exceptional customer service in a relaxed atmosphere. You can't get more California than that," said Keyshawn Johnson, Chief Executive Officer, First Picks Management LLC, a Panera Bread Area Developer and franchisee.  "I'm from here and this is my home….I feel like I know what people here are looking for on an everyday basis and Panera Bread meets that need." Johnson loves what the brand represents, and it doesn't hurt that it has been one of the top performing restaurant stocks and industry leaders for the past several years.

Johnson, who recruited fellow NFL teammates, an NBA player and some USC Alumni along the way to strengthen his bench and further propel the company's growth, is especially proud to contribute to the economic vitality within the area. 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 First Picks Member Dennis Northcutt, former NFL wide receiver. "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."

Other First Picks investors include: Terence Newman, Warrick Dunn, Eric Allen, Reggie Bush, Anthony Henry, Keith Rivers, Corey Ivy, and Joe Smith.  First Picks management team is Clarence Mah, Chief Financial Officer, Glenn Mah, Chief Operations Officer and Ingrid Roberts, Managing Director. The group currently owns franchise rights for the Central Coast and Metro Los Angeles.