EDITORIAL: New Chain Restaurant Should Give City Leaders Something to Chew On

January 4, 2010
Share this story:

paneraA new restaurant coming to town is not much different from a new baby being welcomed into the family.

All the adoring eyes naturally shift to the newborn, raptly following every giggle, gurgle and guffaw. Meanwhile, the newborn’s siblings wonder what their standing will be in the new family order.

The announcement that Panera Bread is coming to La Verne is certainly good news for city coffers and citizens who want to expand their culinary options. Panera with its rapidly approaching 1,500 stores is a formidable competitor and darling of Wall Street that kept growing despite the long recession. Its stock price is over $66 a share (as of Jan. 4) and its price/earnings multiple is a robust 25, signifying strong future growth. It’s a $2 billion company. That’s a lot of bread, man.003

As for the “siblings,” the other family restaurants in town, it isn’t clear how they will fare with the increased competition. Panera Bread’s arrival shouldn’t be greeted as a “rising tide-lifts-all-boats” scenario. In fact, just the opposite is more likely, if you can take Panera’s chairman at his word, stated in the Panera’s third quarter report to investors:

“…Our positive transaction growth, proves that this strategy is working and that we are indeed taking market share from our competitors.”

It’s no secret that much of American enterprise is built on competition and “taking market share.” At the same, I believe the city and its unofficial business agent, the La Verne Chamber of Commerce, have a responsibility to work with existing La Verne restaurants to help them become “more competitive,” via marketing, streamlined business operations, menu creativity, outreach to service groups, reduced taxes and other business breaks and incentives.

If this proactive approach doesn’t take place, you can bet right now some of our existing mom and pops will be going out of business.

Like everybody else, we’re all gaga over the expected June delivery of a new restaurant in La Verne, but let’s not forget the other restaurants in the La Verne family of eateries who have served us well and continue to deserve our support.

That’s our view. What’s yours?

Leave a Reply