Panera Bread will be coming to the first floor of Russell House by Aug. 23 in the Central Market area. This section once housed Topio’s and Horseshoe Deli prior to renovations. The restaurant will be full-service — including seating and the full Panera Bread menu — and will employ 50 people, remaining open Monday through Sunday from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
According to Faren Alston, the marketing director for Carolina Food Co., focus groups, food advisory meetings, brand tastings and surveys helped decide which vendors were to be included in the renovations.
“The feedback that we received from the campus community was vital in determining how to best upgrade the options in the Russell House," Alston said. "We worked with our corporate team to develop the partnership and bring the brand to campus."
USC has never had an on-campus Panera Bread and currently, the closest Panera Bread is on Gervais Street. Todd Littrell, director of operations for Aramark, the funder of the renovations, is excited to bring the restaurant to USC.
“This was a unique opportunity to bring a highly rated full service restaurant to USC as they break into the Higher Education market,” Littrell said.
Littrell looks forward to the upcoming year and feedback from students and staff on the new food options.
Andrea Guilfoos, Food Service Director at Aramark, echoes Littrell’s enthusiasm for the Panera Bread addition. She emphasized that Panera Bread has a variety of food options and customizable meals to appeal to all USC students and staff.
“Their ability to customize is huge, we look to partner with brands that can meet all our customers’ needs," Guilfoos said. "Panera offers something for everyone, for every meal period." Guilfoos said.
Panera Bread, formally known as St. Louis Bread, was founded in 1987 by Ken Rousenthal and opened its first location in Kirkwood, Missouri. Au Bon Pain purchased the brand in 1993 and changed the name in 1997, inspired by the phrase "bread basket" in Latin.
Carolina Creamery, Pei Wei by P.F. Chang’s, a full-service Chick-fil-A and Olilo, a Mediterranean concept created by Iron Chef Cat Cora and Congaree River Smokehouse will accompany Panera Bread on the first floor, according to Faren Alston.
The second floor, called Gamecock Park, will feature Oath Craft Pizza, Twisted Taco, Horseshoe Deli, Southern Kitchen, Sushi with Gusto and a Gamecock General convenience area, while Einstein Bros. Bagels and Preston's at Noon will remain in their current locations, according to Alston.
“We think the students, faculty, and staff of USC will be extremely happy with the final product, and we look forward to serving you all,” Guilfoos said.