With the high rate of unemployment, new businesses that open in the District are always welcome. Many of those looking for jobs locally flocked to the new Panera Bread that opened recently at Dupont Circle, and the establishment has already accepted numerous applications. Dupont Circle will be one of their first locations here in the Capital.
“I’ve always said that there should be a Panera in D.C.,” said Dyani Hanrahan, head of community relations for Panera Bread. “It’s a great opportunity to serve the populous. For every community we move into, we want to become a part of what’s really relevant to the D.C. community.”
According to General Manager Eden Wadsworth, Panera Bread expanded because the company realized they didn’t have many locations in urban markets. Since its opening in D.C., Panera Bread has hired 50 employees and associates.
“You shouldn’t believe the stigma, that you won’t find good help here. I came from New York and the general view is that you wouldn’t find quality people to work with. That’s not true,” Wadsworth said. “I’ve met people that have been looking and spent time looking [for jobs], and I’m glad that I’ve been able to offer them positions. These are people I couldn’t imagine living without now.”
Before finding a position at Panera Bread, Donald Bell had been looking for a job since January, after he got laid off from Ronald Reagan International Airport. Without work, he struggled to pay bills and to stay in school.
“It was a tough time for me but I kept looking and I applied online here, got called in for the interview and got the job the same day,” Bell said. “I love it — it’s fun, it keeps me busy and the atmosphere is great,”
Of course Panera is not the only place hiring in town. A few blocks away from the Archives-Navy and Memorial-Penn Quarter Metro station is Carmine’s, a family-style restaurant that serves abundant portions of homemade Italian food made for sharing with friends and family. The restaurant’s birthplace is in New York, and the franchise has expanded to New Jersey, the Bahamas and finally Washington, D.C.
“We came here because of the opportunity for new market. D.C. is really thriving despite the unemployment rate being very low, so we wanted to provide jobs to a market that is growing and really great for the restaurant business,” Carmine’s general manager, Arlene Weston, said.
Since its opening in August, the restaurant branch has hired and trained more than 275 employees. “We feel we have made a great contribution to reducing the unemployment rate. We had a four week-training program to ensure newcomers understand the significance of house hospitality and the service market,” Weston said.
The general manager stated the restaurant’s goal was to promote an industry in an area that wasn’t as pronounced compared to government-related jobs, and recommended other restaurants expand their business to the Capitol.
“This place is a viable market and it’s the place to be — there’s been New York, Vegas, L.A., but D.C. is the place to be,” Weston said.