The future Panera Bread is rapidly taking shape on the northeast side of the Sunset Avenue and Wesleyan Boulevard interchange.
Charles Childs, superintendent for Florida-based Bay to Bay Properties, which is the contractor, told the Telegram late last week that crews are approximately halfway toward completion.
Childs said the date to hand possession of the building over to Panera Bread is Oct. 21.
“And then from about 20 days from there, they’ll open the store,” Childs said.
The Telegram more than three months ago reported that representatives of Panera Bread, Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen all had submitted plans to officials at City Hall.
Those plans called for all three businesses to be in the same immediate area adjacent to the Rocky Mount Sam’s Club.
At the site of the future Panera Bread, Childs told the Telegram the work was slowed because the soil is not strong enough to be topped with a driveway.
As a result, Childs said, material had to be trucked in from the local Hanson Aggregates quarry.
Childs said people have stopped by the site daily asking about the future Panera Bread.
“They’re happy that it’s coming,” Childs said.
He said lots of people have been taking pictures of the site and noted a temporary fence was run over a couple of times due to motorists pulling up to read the signs announcing the future Panera Bread.
“So it’s pretty interesting, but everybody seems to be happy it’s coming,” he said.
As for how many crew members he usually has working at such a site, he said, “Starting off, it’s usually five, 10 guys — but today, we’ve probably got 15, pushing 20.”
He said he is staying in lodging in Rocky Mount. He said Bay to Bay tries to employ local contractors at sites and noted the electrician and the plumber at this site are from Rocky Mount.
And he has kind words for the city.
“The accommodations have been nice — great food,” he said.
He did note his preference for smaller communities because of the slower pace.
He said construction work that has recently started just yards to the northeast of the Panera Bread site is the site of the future Freddy’s.
Freddy’s franchise owner Dave Dreiling, in an email to the Telegram, said the Rocky Mount location is slated to open by the end of the year and said the goal is to hire approximately 65 local residents.
“Once construction has started, we’ll have a better feel for the timeline,” Dreiling said.
The Telegram’s attempts to obtain updates from a representative of Popeyes were unsuccessful.
Overall, the work on the future Panera Bread and the future Freddy’s comes as openings of retail and service-oriented businesses — and the construction of such future businesses — have been ongoing in the Rocky Mount area this year.
The new Dairy Queen Grill & Chill welcomed its first customers nearly four weeks ago off Benvenue Road in what had been a long-since-closed Peoples National Bank location adjacent to the Golden East Crossing mall.
Just up Benvenue, on the south side of Cobb Corners Drive, a future Mavis Discount Tire store and service center is being built.
Near the U.S. 64 and Winstead Avenue interchange, two hotels are being built.
One is the future Fairfield by Marriott off Wellspring Drive; the other is the future Tru by Hilton off Gateway Boulevard.
At the Rocky Mount Mills development off Falls Road, the River and Twine Tiny House Hotel opened nearly three months ago, with a high-ranking state Commerce Department official being one of the featured speakers.
Off East Washington Street in Nashville, the future Bell’s Ace Hardware and Outdoor Power Equipment is being built.
Bell’s, which presently is an independent business, is going to be bidding farewell to a location off N.C. 58 northwest of town.
And the site of the future Bell’s Ace is next to a new O’Reilly Auto Parts store.