By JENNIFER AMATO
NORTH BRUNSWICK — A drive-through Panera has been added to the growing development at the MainStreetNB transit-oriented village on Route 1.
Members of the North Brunswick Zoning Board voted 5-1 on July 19 to approve the application for Grant Avenue, with member Thomas Abode dissenting because of an issue of delivery times.
The 4,563-square-foot, one-story freestanding building will join Target and Costco, which are currently on site, as well at the Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille and 158 townhomes, which were recently approved for construction.
The walkable main street area will include a combination of residential, retail, office and commercial space.
“It’s a great integration of public sidewalks that tie everything together in this project,” said professional planner Robert Melvin of Group Melvin Design.
“Having adequate outdoor seating is a very important component of all of the restaurants that are going to be proposed in here,” said professional engineer Lorali Totten of Crest Engineering Services. “This really adds a very nice element to the cafe.”
David Machicao, senior design project manager for Panera Bread, said hours of operation would be 6 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday.
He said the drive-through is anticipated to accommodate 30 percent of the customer base, with the most popular times for the restaurant and drive-through being lunchtime and then breakfast.
He said the drive-through wait time is expected to be three to five minutes, usually on the lower end. He said the distance from the menu board to the ordering window is five car lengths, with the ability to stack seven to 10 cars.
Around 25 full-time and 35 part-time employees will work in three different shifts per day, with anywhere from 12 to 20 employees on site simultaneously.
Machicao said that deliveries are usually done during off-peak hours from 10 p.m.- 6 a.m., as the dough is delivered fresh every day and prepared overnight by a baker. A 52-foot refrigerated tractor trailer is the common vehicle of transport.
Abode asked for the timeframe of deliveries to be restricted from midnight to 5 a.m. since he was concerned about truck traffic. Fellow Zoning Board Member Candice Howard said if trucks were to arrive at 5 a.m. and the cafe opens at 6 a.m., that would be “a pretty slim timeframe.”
“You’re really confining it and bringing a trailer into a parking lot when there’s customers,” Howard said.
Nicholas Verderese, principal and founder of Dynamic Traffic, said that residents should understand that deliveries could be ongoing at any site within the property.
“People are buying in here knowing they are getting a 24-hour activity center,” he said.
The expected date of construction nor the expected opening of the restaurant were not known as of press time, according to a representative from Garden Homes of Princeton.
Contact Jennifer Amato at firstname.lastname@example.org.