Panera Bread in East Peoria was initially supposed to open its new location in March.


The COVID-19 pandemic and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s shelter-in-place order forced the delay of that opening. With bars and restaurant in central Illinois opening for outdoor service last week, Panera’s new location opened Wednesday.


"We are excited to offer a quality fast casual restaurant with drive-thru, outdoor and eat-in dining options," said Sean Garrett, President of Acquisitions and Director of Community Relations for Cullinan Properties, Ltd., the real estate company from whom Panera leased the new location, in a Tuesday new release. "Occupying the last remaining out lot at The Levee District, Panera will complement our other offerings and allow easy access off the roundabout for those dining in East Peoria."


Relocating from the previous store at 815 W. Camp St., puts Panera in a better position to take advantage of a bustling shopping district, according to Marc Redshaw, general manager of the East Peoria Panera franchise. Perhaps the most significant benefit of the move, he added, was that Panera Bread now occupies a stand-alone building, rather than sharing a building with other businesses


"We’re able to have a drive-through now," said Redshaw. "We weren’t able to have a drive-through at the old location. This is a good location because it’s busy here. It seems like a lot of new businesses are coming in (to the Levee District)."


In addition to the drive-through, the new location features outdoor dining and more ample parking than the previous site offered. Panera Bread is located at 496 W. Washington St., East Peoria. Hours of operation are from 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Sundays.