Bay Ridge businesses are being wrapped in chains, but local mom ’n’ pop shops don’t feel oppressed.
National bakery and coffee chain Panera Bread opened its first Ridge location on 86th Street and Gelston Avenue to great fanfare on Aug. 4, but local bakers and cafe owners aren’t worried that their new neighbor will slurp up their loyal clientele.
“I don’t think they will affect us in any way,” said Martyna Cieniewicz, a manager at the Mocha Mocha Coffee, which sells coffee and pastries just two blocks from the newly opened Panera on Fourth Avenue and 86th Street.
Another business owner said the quality of his product and his business practices keep people coming back, even if chains can give people a lower price.
“I’m not worried,” said Joe Monaco Jr. of Monaco’s Bakery on Third Avenue and 85th Street. “I make all my stuff here, and we’re a family-owned business.”
The Bay Ridge Panera is Brooklyn’s third — the first opened in Kings Plaza Mall in late 2011 and a Downtown Brooklyn location fired up its ovens in early 2012. The Ridge restaurant created 80 jobs and is run by franchisee Doherty Enterprises, which operates 140 restaurants in New York, New Jersey, Georgia, and Florida, according to a press release from Panera.
And more chains are on the way to the Ridge, too. “Mexican” restaurant Chipotle and lingerie emporium Victoria’s Secret are slated to join this booming section of 86th Street, according to press releases from real estate firms Thor Equities and Massey Knakal.
Some locals worry the growing number of national chains will dilute the neighborhood’s character, but others said the big names are a welcome addition and they lend gravitas to the Ridge.
“Its like a step forward for Bay Ridge,” said resident Peter Loughlin, who said 86th Street is looking more like parts of Manhattan these days. “We already have the Starbucks and numerous fast food places, so its nice to have something like Panera where they take pride in what they do.”
Still others say they’ll stick with their local mom-and-pops.
“I don’t even know what Panera is,” said Dennis Jensen as he sipped coffee and chatted with workers at Your Baker, which sits directly across 86th street from the new Panera and adjacent to a Starbucks. “You come here and it’s ‘Hi Dennis, how’s your day?’ You get real people.”