Chow Bella

Corner Bakery Cafe to Open in Peoria Monday

"People have to eat." This is what Roland C. Spongberg, Corner Bakery Café Franchisee, said in response to Corner Bakery Café's plan to open not one, but 15 new locations in Maricopa County over the next few years; a plan which happens to take place during one of the more taxing economic depressions ever.

The idea, Spongberg adds, is that diners used to spending $20 on a meal can trade down to the affordable eats at Corner Bakery Café and maybe even take a few loaves of bread or desserts home with them.

We checked out Corner Bakery Café's V.I.P. luncheon at the Peoria location (opening Monday) for first hand look at this new eatery.

True to Spongberg's theory, the most expensive item on the menu is the salad combo weighing in at $7.79 and consisting of a "café sized signature hand-tossed salad with a cup of soup." That's a lot of food for $8.

We tried the club panini on sourdough with a cup of chicken noodle soup and a mug of coffee. The soup came with a sourdough roll while the sandwich came with half a plate of "bakery chips" and a pickle. Our bill came to about $15 but was more than we could consume in one sitting.

Our meal was prepared well and, despite a deep-seated need to jump on the treadmill after consuming as many carbohydrates in one sitting as we normally do in a week, fairly delicious. Even the coffee was better than we expected.

Yet as we sat there enjoying our meal we couldn't help but notice that the whole thing seemed awfully familiar. Think about it: how many places can you name where you can grab soup, salad or a sandwich, drink coffee and buy baked goods?

Far be us to cast doubt upon any business fighting for success in these economic times, but we can't help but wonder if the idea of installing 15 more neighborhood bakery restaurants is a little half-baked.

What do you think Phoenix? Do we need more corner cafes to load up on carbs and coffee whether for in store consumption or simply sharing with our loved ones? Toss your two cents into the comments below.

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Jonathan McNamara