George Mason University’s new Panera Bread was expected to open at the start of the spring 2015 semester, but now the new Johnson Center dining addition will open Jan. 24.
According to Mark Kraner, the executive director of campus retail operations, the reason for the original delay was construction issues. Now, however, Kraner says that construction is done and this current week-long delay is for hiring and training staff.
“I was pretty disappointed as I really love Panera, but honestly I was not surprised whatsoever,” said junior Harmain Rafi. “Construction does not go according to plan at Mason, from what I’ve noticed.”
Students like freshman Emily Holt were disappointed because they were looking forward to more dining options.
“It would have been nice if Panera was open sooner because students are limited with their meal plans,” Holt said. “It’s a nice change to dining hall food which sometimes gets repetitive.”
When the announcement was made that Panera was coming to campus, the university decided to close La Patisserie in the Johnson Center to make room for Panera. The first delay meant that La Patisserie in the Johnson Center would remain open a semester longer.
“I was never extremely excited about the opening of Panera because it meant that we would lose La Pat[isserie],” says sophomore Skylar Glunk. “So I wasn’t very disappointed when the opening was delayed. […] I was still looking forward to a new option on campus but the opening kept being pushed back.”
Freshman Brianna Brown believes the delay is not a major issue. She feels that Mason has many dining options and all the complaints about the delay are unnecessary. Brown said that Mason is always going to offer something to eat, and at the end of the day, that is all that matters.
“I like the idea of having Panera on campus,” Glunk said. “It’s great that we will have another option at Mason and I am curious to see what this Panera will offer.”