PLEASANTON -- Corner Bakery Cafe has opened in Pleasanton and says the East Bay restaurant marks the vanguard of a big push into the Bay Area that will consist of 32 new locations in the region.

The restaurant is now open at 6770 Bernal Ave., in a Pleasanton shopping center that's anchored by a new Safeway supermarket. The retail complex also will offer a CVS drugstore.

The Pleasanton site is the first Bay Area location for Corner Bakery and is operated through a franchise by John Sweeney, General Manager of Restaurant Operations for Buon Hospitality.

The next Corner Bakery to open will be in Pleasant Hill. Sweeney said his company has just signed a lease in downtown Pleasant Hill.

"It's a relatively aggressive growth strategy," Sweeney said. "The plan is to open several new restaurants a year. We are actively pursuing more sites in the Bay Area."

The franchise agreement calls for Buon Hospitality to open the proposed 32 Corner Bakery restaurants in the Bay Area during the next seven years. Lockehouse Retail Group, a commercial realty firm, is conducting the hunt for Corner Bakery locations in the region.

The expansion means hundreds of new jobs -- each restaurant employs about 40 to 50 workers.

"Having Corner Bakery join our community is great," said Pamela Ott, director of Pleasanton's city Economic Development Department. "We didn't have these restaurants in the city."


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The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

"It is a fast, casual concept that offers food for all three day parts," Sweeney said. "People understand good food, they understand good quality. They know what they want in a good dining experience."

For breakfast, the restaurant features hot, made-to-order food with a full array of dishes. For lunch, grilled panini and other specialty sandwiches are on the menu. For dinner, pasta, chicken and other items are offered. Baked goods and pastries can also be ordered. The restaurant's menu items range from 99 cents to $8.49 each, Sweeney said.

"People living in the Bay Area have busy lives, and are looking for a place that is reasonably priced, and they want to get that casual dining experience," Sweeney said. "With how the economy is now, we fit well into people's pocketbooks."

Sweeney hopes the Pleasant Hill location will be open by next May. That restaurant will be located on Crescent Drive near the movie theater complex west of Interstate 680.

Based on the typical hiring levels for each restaurant, Corner Baker could be adding 1,300 to 1,600 jobs to the regional economy in the coming few years.

"We are excited about the growth potential in the Bay Area," Sweeney said.

Contact George Avalos at 925-977-8477. Follow him at twitter.com/george_avalos.