Santa Barbara is getting its first Panera Bread location this Saturday. No, not exactly the stuff of breaking national news. But when the owner is NFL great and ESPN broadcaster Keyshawn Johnson, it’s a different story. As far as we can tell from press materials, this is a standard Panera with Wi-Fi and freshly-baked breads and alla that. The cool part comes when we learn that Johnson is the CEO of a company called First Picks Management, a franchisee of the bakery chain that counts other past and present NFL pros like Eric Allen, Anthony Henry**, Terence Newman, Keith Rivers, and Super Bowl ring-model Reggie Bush as partners. In a release, Johnson, a former Dorsey Don and alum of USC, details the loose connections between Panera and our state.
"I’m from here and this is my home, "Johnson says, "I feel like I know what people here are looking for on an everyday basis and Panera Bread meets that need." Okay, noted. Unfortunately, the premiere party, which sounds like it’s just got to be Panera’s most star-studded yet, is unfortunately an invitation only affair. Beyond that, well, we can’t really picture Reggie Bush will be hanging around Santa Barbara’s La Cumbre Plaza very much.
**Not to be confused with Tony Henry, whose name we had written earlier.