Photo by Sarah Fenske
The Saint Louis Bread Co. in the Delmar Loop
After Panera confirmed Tuesday that it plans to close its 4,800-square-foot store in the Delmar Loop
at year's end, Dan Riley knew what he had to do.
See also: Saint Louis Bread Co. to Close Delmar Loop Location
Yesterday, Riley launched a petition on change.org
, hoping to persuade the St. Louis-based restaurant company to reverse its decision.
An artist and community activist, Riley knows something about petitions. He previously launched an effort to save the Incarnate Word convent
in his Bel-Nor neighborhood; so far, the convent has been saved from demolition.
Of the convent, he says, "I had been losing sleep over it. I said, 'I have to do something about it.' So when this came up, I thought, let's give it a go. I've had good success from petitions before."
A Bel-Nor native, Riley has fond memories of going to the Delmar Bread Co. with his mom as as a kid — and these days, he says, he still goes several times a month. And though Panera has suggested patrons can instead visit its shop in Richmond Heights, Riley says that makes no sense for people who live north of Delmar.
"This is the closest shop of its kind in miles," he says. "It's the only one that serves north St. Louis city and parts of mid-county." He adds, "Let's give it a go. Let's show that we really want them to stay — that this could be lucrative for them in the long run."
University City has also been urging Bread Co. to reconsider. Andrea Riganti, the city's community development director, tells Riverfront Times
The City would be disappointed to lose a quality business in the Delmar Loop such as the Bread Company, as we are unhappy when any such business leaves our community. We do not know the intimate details of the situation between the property owner and tenant. Regardless, we will continue our efforts to support and promote the Delmar Loop as one of America’s Great Streets and an excellent location for any businesses. The Delmar Loop has a strong personality and numerous unique assets — an eclectic mix of commercial activities, historical architecture and contemporary construction, cultural and recreational opportunities, and fantastically diverse residents. If the Bread Company departs, we will work with the property owner to attract a new tenant to this desirable location.
The Loop has been plagued by construction traffic in recent months thanks to the trolley project. Merchants say their business is down significantly as drivers steer clear of the area.
We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org