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New Panera Bread set to open on Halloween
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Dawson County's new Panera Bread Bakery-Café is expected to open by the end of the month.

As Georgia's newest Panera Bread, the café will feature a drive-thru, catering, outdoor seating, free WiFi, Rapid Pick Up and catering. It is expected to open to the public at 6 a.m. Oct. 31.

The restaurant is at 321 Power Center Drive next to LongHorn Steakhouse on Ga. 400. The hours of operation will be 7a.m.-10 p.m., Saturday, 7 a.m.-9 p.m., Sunday and 6 a.m.-10 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The Dawson County Chamber of Commerce will hold ribbon cutting ceremony at the restaurant on Nov. 2 at 10:30 a.m.

The entire Panera Bread menu will be available to order through the bakery-café's drive-thru window during regular hours of operation.

Customers will also be able to place an order online or from a mobile phone up to five days in advance, and pick up their food at a predetermined time without waiting in line. The café will have a "to go" area with dedicated seating where guests can pick up their food.

Representatives from the restaurant have been vocal about their excitement to bring the soup, salad and sandwich chain to Dawsonville.

According to Shannon Taylor, who oversees marketing and customer relations for Panera Bread, the restaurant began hiring in mid-September, and at this point has hired most of its café associates.

Taylor said that new employees are being trained at the Cumming Panera Bread location until the Dawson County cafe is ready for move in.

Taylor had a table at the Sept. 22 North Georgia Career Expo, where she met with potential employees.

"We're very excited to be working in Dawsonville," Taylor said at the expo.

Marianne Harris, owner and operator at Panera Bread, said that her company is thrilled to open their newest bakery-cafe in Dawsonville.

"Our concept has been embraced by many surrounding communities over the past 16 years, and we look forward to sharing our signature Panera warmth here, in Dawsonville," Harris said.

The bakery-cafe got its start in 1981 as Au Bon Pain Company, and became Saint Louis Bread Company before landing on the name Panera Bread in 1997.

As of March 29, 2016 there are 1,997 bakery-cafés in 46 states, the District of Columbia and Ontario,Canada.