Panera Bread opens first UP location, hundreds wait in the early morning for a chance for free bagels

The business made 1,300 Bagels and over 200 loaves of bread in preparation.
Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 2:19 PM EST
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MARQUETTE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WLUC) - Hundreds gathered in the early hours this morning to be the first customers at the new Panera Bread in Marquette Township.

Eric Hupf got in line a little after 4 a.m. Thursday morning, even though the store opened at 7 a.m.

“I think it’s fun to see everybody come together,” Hupf said. “I think it’s been nice to see some lively chatter happening out in the porch. It is not just dead quiet. It’s a pretty big deal, I think it will be big for the college students for sure,” Hupf said.

Sean Gifford is the area operating partner for Panera Bread. He says a lot of preparation went into this special day.

“We wanted to make sure everybody got a free Bagel when they came in and got a free cookie,” Gifford said. “So, everybody who came in today is going to get a free bagel and a free cookie with it. We ended up baking over 1,300 Bagels. We ended up baking over 200 loaves of bread and we prepped more tomatoes and more onions than you can imagine.”

Gifford says all of the workers for the business came from the Marquette area.

“We ended up hiring an entire management team through the college and then through the community. So, we have about seven of them. And then we have another about 34 to 45 between catering leads team leads and associates,” Gifford said.

Another customer who waited in the early morning hours was Calvin Mattson. Mattson says he was hoping to be one of the first 100 guests. They got a coupon for a free bagel and cream cheese each week for a year.

“I kind of thought that I’d be like this would be like a stupid thing. We thought we’re gonna get there early and no one’s gonna be there. But as soon as we pulled up this group was ahead of us and then we were like, yeah, you know. Like I said earlier, bagels for like a week now but, like, bagels for a year? Like a whole bagel for like, oh you’re straight. Yes,” Mattson said.

For those who didn’t wait in line this morning, there’s still have a chance to win a prize. For the next three mornings from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., customers can spin the wheel to win something to take home.