Panera Bread opens on Merrick Road in Bellmore
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The menu is not the only thing bringing teenagers to Panera, however. DiChiara explained that the café has created more than 50 jobs in the area, with many of the staff being young adults from Bellmore, Merrick, Freeport, Wantagh and Seaford.
George explained that Panera Bread offers students –– and all sales associates, for that matter –– flexibility in planning their schedules. He added that because Panera offers fresh products, like baked goods, salads and sandwiches, working at the café provides a different experience than a fast-food job would.
Carly Weissman, 17, of Levittown, has worked at the Bellmore Panera since its recent grand opening. She works three or four times a week after class at Island Trees High School.
“It’s been very busy, but it’s been great,” she said. “I’ve made a lot of new friends working here.”
Amberge, 17, of Bellmore, said she decided to apply for a job after seeing signs in the neighborhood that said the business would open soon. Now, she said, she looks forward to working a few days a week after school, adding that she’s happy that she doesn’t have to travel far from home.
Amberge said she has seen many of her Mepham classmates, as well as students from the nearby Kennedy High School, come for lunch and during off-periods. She noted that business has been booming, as she has seen lines wrap out the door onto Merrick Road.
“The first time that happened, it was a little overwhelming,” she said. “But everyone knows how to handle the situation. People are coming here and really loving it.”
Melanie Koulias, an 18-year-old sales associate from Seaford, said the new Panera offers plenty of other services that she thinks attract customers. The eatery has off-street parking, free Wi-Fi, sitting nooks and a fireplace for unwinding in the upstairs seating area.