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  • School vision logo

    New school year -- old educational questions

    Education. We pretend it begins for youngsters in September, when the leaves turn, but it continues through all of our season, every minute of every day, for everyone. Learning persists for two reasons -- human curiosity and technological change (you can't stop either one, but notice which is first). Shouldn't a third factor be classroom teachers? Good ones can have a lifelong effect, but our curiosity is the best guide, as technology draws us, often in too many directions, in the classroom that is everywhere. As Arlington schools open Tuesday, Sept. 2, what happens there is sliver of the educational story, albeit a key one for residents. Still, let's take a quick look at the new school year -- and then peer more broadly beyond it. ...

  • Pondering Our Future logo

    Spaced out? Many artists, but resistant owners

    Does Arlington have the imagination to embrace co-working? The town is trying to find out and held a forum in June attended by about 30 people. Read a summary of comments from some of the attendees here >>  See what properties in town may be available here >> Following publication, Eric Love, present at the forum, provided a brief critique. His LARP Adventure Program, aims to spur imaginations. ...

  • Arlington election logo

    Primary letters -- all welcome -- 8 ask you to vote for Berwick

    YourArlington welcomes letters to the editor from Arlington residents for all Massachusetts candidates whose election would have an impact on the town. Email them to sprague.bob at gmail.com. Here are eight supporting Don Berwick, who is seeking to be the Democratic nominee after the Sept. 9 primary. Send letters supporting any candidate in the primary. 'It's not just talk' Don Berwick, Democratic candidate for governor, speaks boldly about values and making Massachusetts a beacon for the nation. It’s not just talk -- he has met bold goals throughout his career.  Don is a creative leader with wise judgment and deep executive experience in complex bureaucracies, including as President Obama’s head of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, that vast $800 billion federal agency.  His vision includes single-payer healthcare for Massachusetts, and he is the one candidate who understands how to make that happen; and, why it must happen, as rising healthcare costs consume o ...

  • Film reviews logo

    Review, ‘Life of Crime’: Leonard’s crew back at shenanigans

    This review by Tom Meek, a writer living in Cambridge, was originally published at Cambridge Day, a YourArlington partner, and is republished with permission. His reviews, essays, short stories and articles have appeared in The Boston Phoenix, The Rumpus, Thieves Jargon, Film Threat and Open Windows. He is a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics and rides his bike everywhere. You can follow Tom on Twitter @TBMeek3 and read more at TBMeek3.wordpress.com. Elmore Leonard, the beloved master crime and western novelist, transcended seamlessly the divide between pulp and celluloid. His career is littered with great novels that became great movies (“Get Shorty,” “Jackie Brown” and “Out of Sight” to name a few), a smattering of original screenplays (“Joe Kidd”) and even took a few turns as producer. Cormac McCarthy might be his only peer. ...

  • Image of leaves

    Searching for an Arlington poet laureate: YOU?

    Are you a poet -- and you do know it? What have you written? Anything published? Inquiring minds want to know. Rumor has it that Arlington could have its own poet laureate, perhaps next year. Could that be you? ...

  • Arlington election logo

    8 ask you to vote for Berwick; letters for others welcome

    YourArlington welcomes letters to the editor from Arlington residents for all Massachusetts candidates whose election would have an impact on the town. Email them to sprague.bob at gmail.com. Here are eight supporting Don Berwick, who is seeking to be the Democratic nominee after the Sept. 9 primary. Only candidate to oppose casinos   I write in support of Don Berwick for governor. I support Don because he is the only candidate for governor opposed to casinos. In a strong field of likable candidates, this is decisive for me. I saw the Detroit casino pull the life out of the Greektown neighborhood there, so that it looked like a bombed out war zone. ...

  • Chris Loreti, former Redevelopment Board member

    Loreti to seek Town Meeting article targeting assessors' fiasco

    Loreti The following opinion column by Christopher Loreti of Adams Street was first published in The Arlington Advocate, on Aug. 14, under the headline "It’s Time to Professionalize Arlington’s Board of Assessors." The full column, which includes a paragraph about YourArlington deleted from The Advocate's version, is republished here with permission. In January 2012, the state Department of Revenue provided to Arlington a “Town and School Finance Analysis,” which included several recommendations for restructuring town government. The report contained two recommendations related to the Board of Assessors. The first of these recommendations was that the town make the director of assessments position an appointment of the Town Manager instead of the Board of Assessors. The second was that the town consider changing the Board of Assessors from an elected to an appointed board. The actions of the Board of Assessors in recent months make it clear that the town needs to move forward w ...

  • Domestic-violence logo

    New law curbs domestic-violence reports: What about sexual-assault case?

    A new law, signed Aug. 8 by Governor Patrick, requires law enforcement to keep domestic-violence cases off public police logs initially, and the Arlington police department is complying. That means details about domestic violence reported to police are not immediately available to the media -- or to you. Had the law been in effect June 1, information about a sexual-assault case in East Arlington would have been delayed. Chief Fred Ryan reached out to area media outlets Aug. 12, alerting them about the law and asking for feedback. He explained: ...

  • 2014 Arlington Cal Ripken champs

    How about honoring this team, Arlington?

    The Arlington National U12 All-Stars baseball team did not win the 2014 Cal Ripken World Series, but the boys had one doozy of a ride. They had four wins in a row until they ran into a then-unbeaten Bronx squad and a heartbreaking, double come-from-behind 7-6 loss to a Florida team. No need to cry. What the team has done is remarkable. The town should recognize their on-the-diamond accomplishments, just as occurred in 2008, when an Arlington Cal Ripken team went to the Series. There was a parade down Mass. Ave. Officials spoke on the steps at Town Hall. It was August then, as it is now. You can read brief summaries about how the 2014 team played out in the Series here >> This is a story that The Advocate or Patch have yet to report. In the photo from left in rear are manager John Messuri, Coach Scott Jones, Spencer Friedman, James Santagati, Brendan Jones, Sam Theodore, Timothy Mazzei, Patrick Masci, Coach Rich Flynn; in front are Timothy Shaw, Jacob Ahern, Caden FitzPa ...

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 Tuesday Sept. 2, 2014 |  2:41:47 a.m.
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Heights hangout and home since 1999 to close this month

Panera Bread, in the Heights, February 2013

The seemingly ever-expanding company called Panera Bread is contracting in Arlington. The Heights store, a home of sorts to many since 1999, will close at the end of March.

"We're working very hard to find a replacement that we believe will be a wonderful addition" to the neighborhood," said Len Bierbrier, the Lexington developer who owns the property and has been behind a number of key changes in Heights businesses in recent years.

He said closing the Heights Panera was the company's choice, as the St. Louis based firm chose not renew the option on its lease.

Jackie Halfond, Panera's greater Boston marketing manager, wrote in an email Wednesday, Feb. 27:

'Difficult to achieve standards'

"As one of Panera Bread's oldest locations and the second market to open in Boston, the Arlington bakery-cafe has been a wonderful location for the company.

"Panera continually invests in efforts to improve and renovate bakery-cafes to ensure that their customers have the dining experience they have come appreciate from the brand. Unfortunately, in some existing locations, it has been difficult to achieve the standards they believe will meet customer expectations. With the expiration of their lease, they have taken the opportunity to close the Arlington bakery-cafe for this reason."

Panera has 22 locations within 10 miles of Arlington, including Lexington, Porter Square and soon at Fresh Pond Mall, where a former Newbury Comics is undergoing renovation.

Employees at the Heights store are said to have jobs at Fresh Pond if they choose to go.

A knowledgeable observer said the company is not known to close stores.

A manager takes a look at the local spot

Lunctime customers crowd the counter at Panera.Lunchtime customers wait at the counter at Panera.Jay Snyder, a manager at the Heights Panera, said in an interview Feb. 18 that he plans to move to the Fresh Pond location March 29. The 55-year-old who has lived in Arlington since 2007 and has liked walking to work took time out to talk about the store and his customers.

Addressing standards before the company spokesman mentioned them, he said that in the third quarter of 2012, the Heights store had the highest "promoter score" in the Atlantic region. That is a measure of satisfaction based on customer surveys.

Thus, he was surprised to learn in early February, after about three months as manager, the Heights store was scheduled to close.

Some customers stunned

As word leaked out to customers, they were surprised, too.

One of them, a Town Meeting member, expressed shock and wondered whether the sides negotiating a lease were "talking past each other."

The Heights Panera is a known hangout for a wide spectrum of people -- from town officials, including Selectmen Dan Dunn and Diane Mahon, and business people to teens and the homeless.

"We've been called the 'Cheers' of Panera,'" Snyder said.

As to the bakery/cafe's "regulars," he said, "They come in the same time every day, sit in the same place, order the same meal. When one doesn't show up, another asks why."

A range of clentele

Among those who frequented the place in the past was a retired Harvard financial executive who invested in Au Bon Pain before it became Panera Bread in the 1990s.

There are also street people -- a sort of Arlington Panera Cares, the nonprofit, donation-based locations, including one at Boston's Government Center.

Snyder pointed to Rick, a regular who was a stroke victim and went into assisted living.

Then there's Ben, who gets half-dozen bagels and pastry rings.

"I'll have an order waiting for them when they come through the door," he said of known regulars.

After superstorm Sandy flooded Mass. Ave. late last October, a torrent that washed into Panera, but Snyder opened up anyway.

At 1:30 on a recent afternoon, a lunch crowd with a range of ages packed the place. Many were in their late teens. A number took advantage of wi-fi, plying smart phones and laptops. Many of the 71 seats were filled. A long, chaotic line snaked toward the counter.

A woman in her 20s wearing a dark blue sweatshirt that says Bar Harbor edited at a nearby table. Her square lunch alarm went off with a raspy sound, red lights rotating: food ready. She brought back a large salad, a small soup.

In a booth, in a scene that could have been from a foreign film, an elderly black man with a graying moustache wearing a cap with an NBC logo talked with a woman who was taking notes.

At a corner near the rear exit sitting in a "living room" chair, a woman who has lived in the Heights 48 years said she has been coming to Panera since it opened. She gets a bagel and a coffee.

Asked what she would do after March, she said: "Drive to the Waltham," where there is another Panera.

As for the Heights employees, Halfond, the Panera representative, wrote that the cafes outside of town "will also serve to support the Arlington bakery-cafes associates and managers who wish to continue with the brand."


This story was published Wednesday, March 6, 2013.

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