Covelli Hopes to Open New Boardman Store by Holidays

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Sam Covelli is eyeing an opening later this year for his new Panera Bread bakery-café in Boardman.

The new stand-alone café, to be built at South Avenue and Boardman-Poland Road, will have a new look – distinct from other Paneras — that will be the debut of that look, Covelli, owner/operator of Covelli Enterprise, Warren, said.

The café will replace the Panera that Covelli operates in the Shops at Boardman Park, which is just down the road from the new site.

“I hope we get in there for the holiday season,” Covelli said. “That’s always good – a lot of traffic.”

The township site plan review board approved initial plans June 15 for the 4,950-square-foot store, which would front South Avenue, Krista Beniston, Boardman director of zoning and development, said.

“We really want to put a special store there,” Covelli said. “It might be a different type of design. We’re still working on it.” He declined to be specific on the features except to say it would have a “different look.”

The café in the Shops at Boardman Park was the first Panera Covelli Enterprises opened — in 1998 — after the company ended its decades-long association with the McDonald’s fast-food chain.

Since then, Covelli Enterprises has become St. Louis-based Panera’s largest franchisee, with more than 300 cafes in seven states and Canada.

That first store “made it all happen,” Covelli said. Three years ago, the franchisee opened a second Panera in the township,

“We want to put [another] beautiful store in Boardman,” he continued. He put the expected price tag for the project at $1.7 million.

The freestanding café will offer a drive-thru window and more parking than is available at the Shops at Boardman Park.

“It lays out better for the customer,” Covelli said.

With the initial plans approved, the company must next submit a full set of plans for the building to receive its zoning permit, Beniston said.

Despite his intentions, Covelli acknowledges the store might not be ready for the holidays, and he doesn’t want to open it during the holiday season.

“We have to see. I’ve had stores where everything goes quickly on laying out plans and other stores longer,” Covelli said.

“Sometimes things happen,” he added. We’re two months off or a month early,”

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.