At Paradise Bakery & Café, handmade food makes you feel at home
Photos by Christopher Tierney
With so many restaurants putting an emphasis on fresh, healthy food, there is no shortage of dining choices. But a successful concept requires more than just flavor; it also needs to have that personal touch that keeps people coming back again and again. Paradise Bakery & Café at both Regency Court and Village Pointe have been serving handmade baked goods, soups, salads, and sandwiches for more than 11 years and have done it with full service at casual service prices.
Paradise originated in Arizona as a bakery and later added its additional menu items. Although Panera now owns the Paradise name, the two Omaha franchises are part of Cutchall Management, which owns local restaurants that includes Jams, Famous Dave’s, and Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles. And while Paradise and Panera share some items such as the Fuji Apple Chicken and Strawberry Poppy seed salads, Paradise has a fully open concept. Not only can customers see their food being freshly made, but it’s usually ready by the time they reach the cashier.
Another key factor that makes Paradise different from other similar concepts is the priority that the staff puts on customer service. Director of Operations John Sgourakis said they constantly strive to give the type of customer service that is found in a full service restaurant, including stopping at tables to ask guests about their food. “When you come into Paradise you feel like you’re at home,” he said. “We treat first timers like they’ve been here many times.”
Whether you’re a frequent customer or not, everything on the menu is made fresh to order down to the bread used for the sandwiches. Some of its signature items include the Fire Roasted Tomato soup topped with tortilla strips; the Chicken Walnut Salad sandwich and Turkey Cranberry sandwich, both served on Paradise Molasses bread; the Asian Chicken salad; and the Crumbly Blue Cheese salad—a Paradise staple that is ordered more than any of its other salads. And all vegetables are fresh cut in-house, with nothing pre-bagged.
The one thing that Paradise is probably best known for is the free cookie served with every meal. “The bakery does set us apart,” John said. In fact, chances are good that one of the bakers will be scooping cookie dough onto trays as you come through the order line. “There’s a lot to be said for freshness,” he added. “The open concept is also a way for the staff to interact with the guests and help give them a great experience.”
Catering is another important part of Paradise, comprising about 15% of its business. Whether for business meetings or bridal showers, any of their items are available for groups. They offer individual boxed lunches, sandwich trays, large soups and salads, as well as assorted bakery goods and cookie trays. Private parties are also welcome in the restaurant, and Paradise offers holiday gift baskets that can be custom made to include any combination of breads, muffins, and cookies, including their bite-size chippers.
With both locations part of shopping centers, the convenience and comfort of Paradise make it an ideal place to stop for coffee, lunch, or dinner. But John said having individuals and entire families come back on a regular basis is what means the most to them. “We have a strong following,” he said. “People can get a turkey sandwich anywhere, so we need to set ourselves apart. And when people keep coming back, that’s when we know we’re doing something right.”