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Supporting breast cancer research with unique bagels

Philanthropy: For each pastry sold, Panera Bread donates 25 cents to fight disease

Posted: October 12, 2010 10:05 p.m.
Updated: October 13, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Local Panera Bread General Manager Katherine Stuart prepares a plate of pink-ribbon bagels, which are on sale for the month of October. A portion of proceeds go to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization.

 

Jacob Bustos and Katherine Stuart picked a good career path when they both went into the fast-casual dining business, in which quality meals are made and quickly served in a casual dining atmosphere.

Personable and outgoing, both have a passion for the Panera Bread cafes they manage.

Bustos, 32, a district manager for Panera Bread, manages locations from Malibu to Glendale to the Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys. He will soon have 10 eateries under his domain.

Stuart, a local resident, is the general manager for the cafe off McBean Parkway. Asked why she entered the fiercely competitive restaurant industry, Stuart said she always loved Panera Bread as a customer and decided she wanted to work with the chain.

This month, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Panera Bread is supporting the fight to cure breast cancer by selling the pink-ribbon bagel. For every bagel sold, the local store is contributing 25 cents to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, an organization supporting breast cancer research.

Panera Bread
Panera Bread began on the East Coast in 1981 as Au Bon Pain, which purchased the St. Louis Bread Company in Missouri in 1993.

By May 1999, the Panera Bread brand was so strong that the original company sold all of Au Bon Pain’s business units except Panera Bread.

In 2007, the company purchased a majority stake in Phoenix-based Paradise Bakery and Cafe, buying the balance of Paradise in June 2009.

Today, the Panera Bread Company owns and franchises 1,399 bakery-cafes throughout the country.

Specializing in fresh-baked artisan breads, pastries, sandwiches, salads and soups, the eatery serves antibiotic-free chicken, and breads made without preservatives.

The Santa Clarita restaurant also uses fresh produce grown specifically for cafes in California.

The McBean Parkway location will celebrate its five-year anniversary in December. The Golden Valley Road cafe opened a year ago. All locations offer free Wi-Fi on the premises.

Pink-ribbon bagel

The idea for the pink-ribbon bagel originated 10 years ago. It was created by one of Panera Bread’s first franchisees, Sue Stees.

She was a breast cancer survivor herself and developed the idea in 2001 as a means to support the cause to find a cure.

The chain picked up the idea and promotes it in all California cafes.

The bagel, shaped like the iconic ribbon, is made with cranberries, vanilla, honey, brown sugar, dried cherries and cherry chips.

While The Signal was interviewing Bustos and Stewart, customers were walking in to buy  bagels in a bakers dozen or bagel packs.

One customer bought bagels for her radiation treatment the next morning.

By the time the interview was over, only one bagel remained for sale, forcing Stuart to bake more bagels.

Fight Stories
Customers share their breast-cancer fight and survival stories with the employees of Panera Bread. As the stories have evolved, employees and customers have joined together in support of individual local residents.

“One former associate grew very close to a customer who was losing her hair during chemotherapy treatments,” said Bustos. “The employee and a couple (of) customers shaved their heads in support of the customer who was going through therapy.”

In another instance, an employee would always grow her hair long and then cut it short, donating her hair to Locks of Love. The non-profit organization provides hairpieces to disadvantaged children under age 21 who are suffering from hair loss.

“Just today, a customer asked for a pink-ribbon pin and bagel for her secretary who is going through the last rounds of chemotherapy,” said Stuart.

Panera Bread has also supported the Circle of Hope Walk by donating food.

One hundred percent of the Hope Walk proceeds are used to provide financial and emotional aid for breast cancer patients who live, work or receive treatment in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Nationwide, the bakery-cafe chain founded Operation Dough-Nation which raises money for community organizations. Locally, the cafe sends loose change donated by customers to the Make A Wish foundation and the Center for Assault Treatment Services in Northridge.

The latter, founded in 1997 at Northridge Hospital Medical Center, works with children who have been sexually abused or assaulted to minimize their trauma. The program serves the Santa Clarita Valley.

Panera Bread cafes are located at 24133 Baywood Lane off McBean Parkway and at 19185 Golden Valley Road.

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