Greater City Providence

Capital Center Commission, Panera to Providence Place

To be honest, I am not a fan of Panera Bread, but people seem to love it. So, good news everybody!, according to the Capital Center Commission meeting agenda, Panera is coming to Providence Place. Word is it will be going to the space vacated recently by Napa Valley Grille. My personal feelings about Panera aside, this is good news for Providence Place and good news for Francis Street. Having that street side space in the mall vacant was doing no favors for the street life on Francis Street. Panera is a passive seating environment, so people will be able to grab their sandwiches and sit at tables on the street without waiting to be seated as they are at Cheescake Factory or Joe’s American or other Francis Street restuarants. People on the streets is good news in my book.

And, I may not like Panera, but I often hanker for an iced coffee when I’m in Providence Place and never want to drag my ass up to the 3rd floor to go to Dunkin Donuts. So likely, at some point, you will see me in Panera ordering an iced coffee.

Capital Center Commission – Meeting Notice
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 – 12:00 Noon
Department of Planning and Development
400 Westminster Street, 4th Floor Auditorium Providence, RI 02903

Capital Center Parcels

  1. Roll Call
  2. Minutes
    • Approval of Commission meeting minutes of June 9, 2010
    • Acceptance of DRC meeting minutes of April 13, 2010 and May 4, 2010

  3. Parcel 13: Providence Place

    Image from Google Street View

    Proposal by Panera Bread to alter the existing storefront and to install awnings and signage on the Francis Street elevation. Presenter: Jim Mandeville

  4. Parcels 3E, 3W, 4E and 4W: Parking Lots

    Image from Google Street View

    Request by Capital Properties, Inc for an extension of interim parking approval. Presenter: Todd Turcotte, Capital Properties

  5. Parcel 4W: Parking Lot Proposal by Capital Properties, Inc. to install a new concrete stairway in the existing slope to provide access from the parking lot to street level. Presenter: Todd Turcotte, Capital Properties
  6. Adjournment

The last two items are to do with the massive swathe of parking lots behind the Citizens Building. Surface parking is not allowed in the Capital Center District, so item 4 is requesting an extension of a waiver to allow for it. Item 5 creates a stairwell so people don’t have to crawl up the slope. I guess if we’re going to have parking, and in this economy, it seems we are (nothing is being built here for quite some time), we should at least make it easier for those drivers to transition into pedestrians.

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • I’m no fan of Panera either, I think its awfully overrated.
    Why aren’t you a fan? Please elaborate.

  • I think mostly it was expectations not living up. I had heard people rave about the damn place and bemoan the fact that we didn’t have one in the city. When I finally got around to visiting one and realized it was just a McDonald’s with faux leather chairs and mind numbing muzak, with horrible over-priced processed sandwiches and rude staff run strictly to franchise formula, I started to question the taste level of some of my acquaintances.

  • I don’t go out of my way to go their either, but they do have a few key items that worth a try. The strawberry salad they have in the summer is really good and they have a couple of pastry items that are hard to come by at other places that I like. Otherwise, I’d say it’s like Starbucks versus D&D, most people really like one and hate the other.

  • Interesting, I found their staff rude too and not apologetic. The food is pretend high-end and forgettable.

  • the parking lot use extension should be made with conditions that the parking lot is improved so that it complies with the city landscape ordinance (30% tree canopy cover)

  • Sorry to tell you this, but I’m pretty sure Panera doesn’t have iced coffee. I know that sounds rediculous. I used to work in a shop next door to a Panera and people complained about it all the time… they can give you some ice, and you can add coffee, but they don’t have pre-chilled java.

  • Panera is fine for what it is. It is a quickserve joint. It is not going to be as good as a local place. It is annoying when people want to go there instead of a place you can get real food if you are a foodie. That said, 90% of America are not foodies and just want cheap and fast and faux healthy. I’m kind of sick of everyone around complaining about places just to complain when at least in this instance they are at least fitting in with the ideals of this site with an urban street facing location. If they can make some money and bring activity to that corner that isn’t just people milling around waiting for rides then I can’t see what the problem is in any way.

    I honestly can’t believe that someone on this site would endorse a drive-thru on Hope St. as long as they get a quirky coffee shop but then complain about this because they just don’t like Panera. Like, I seriously don’t get it at all.

  • Now Ian Donnis is reporting at WRNI that P.F. Chang’s is on it’s way to where Napa Valley Grille used to be.

    Capital Center Meeting Agenda

    Parcel 13: Providence Place Proposal by P. F. Chang’s to replace the existing storefronts (former Napa Valley Grille location) with new storefronts and to install new metal awnings, glass entry, entry doors and signage on the Francis Street elevation. The proposal also includes the installation of a blade sign on the west side (parking garage elevation) of the building.

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