Stow -- A Panera Bread is baking in the ashes of a former Bob's Big Boy.

The Stow Planning Commission approved a site plan Dec. 4 for a new 8,800-square-foot building at 1063 Graham Road that would include a new Panera Bread restaurant and a second retail space. No user has been announced for that space yet.

The business will be located just off Route 8 next to the Graham Road Wendy's and across the street from Red Lobster.

The commercially zoned 2.75-acre parcel the building will sit on was formerly occupied by a Bob's Big Boy restaurant, which was torn down earlier this year after the property was acquired by Triad Realty LLC.

"We were very pleased that this property was purchased by Triad Development, who owns the adjacent plaza and with whom we have had very good experience," said Planning Director Rob Kurtz.

According to the site plan, the two proposed spaces will split the new building into nearly equal halves -- Panera is slated to be about 4,600 square feet in area, and the second space will be about 4,100 square feet.

"Considering the highly visible location of the property, we were thrilled that they demolished a building that had been vacant for several years and planned to replace it with a high-quality business like Panera Bread," Kurtz said. "I believe it will be a very attractive building and will greatly enhance the site. It will be an asset to Stow."

Stow currently has one Panera Bread at 4338 Kent Road. A separate Panera is slated for construction at the proposed Portage Crossing development off State Road in Cuyahoga Falls, approximately 2.5 miles away from the new Stow location.

Patrick Sirpilla, director of leasing with Canton-based Deville Developments, said the Graham Road site will be developed with repaved access drives, additional parking spaces and landscaped islands. Primary access will be off Graham Road.

The parking lot will connect to the plaza located off Hudson Drive to the north, a property which also belongs to Triad Realty and includes businesses like Dollar Tree, Aspen Dental, Radio Shack and Salon de Pooch.

The Panera will also feature a drive-thru on the west side of the building, Sirpilla noted, which is a newer concept for the restaurant.

Sirpilla said barring any delays in the submission of other plans, the developer hopes to break ground possibly as soon as this coming February.


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