Paradise Bakery closing last Indianapolis-area location

Paradise Bakery & Cafe, which once operated a half-dozen restaurants in the Indianapolis area, is closing its last remaining local location.

The Park Meridian Paradise Bakery, 9510 N. Meridian St., is set to close for good Tuesday at 9 p.m.

It will be the fourth area Paradise closure since mid-year and the fifth since the end of 2014. Most of the local restaurants opened in 2007 or 2008 and quickly developed a following for their oversized cookies.

St. Louis-based Panera Bread Co., which owns the Paradise chain, announced in late April that it would begin closing many of the Paradise locations or converting them into Panera locations over the next several years because of decreasing sales.

Since that announcement, Paradise has closed its restaurants at Hamilton Town Center in Noblesville, at Chase Tower in downtown Indianapolis and at 8540 Castleton Corner Drive in Castleton.

It closed a location at Clay Terrace in Carmel at the end of 2014 and one at Greenwood Park Mall in 2011.

Paradise Bakery got its start in Long Beach, California, as Cookie Muncher’s Paradise in 1976, and had grown into a 73-restaurant chain in 10 states by the time Panera bought a majority stake in 2008. After the last Indiana store closes, it will have about 50 locations in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Nebraska, Texas and Utah.

Same-store sales at Paradise stores have been declining for several years, Ron Shaich, Panera founder and CEO, told investment analysts in April.

“When we acquired our initial stake in Paradise nearly a decade ago, it was a solid acquisition,” Shaich said. “The real estate was good and the brand was popular in its markets. While the cafes have remained profitable, growth has slowed materially.”

Panera operates about 2,000 restaurants in 46 states and Canada, including about a dozen in the Indianapolis area.

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