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Dec 13, 2007 02:44 PM

Bear Rock Cafe: Cosi Clone?

Here in Northern VA we just got a Bear Rock Cafe on the Arlington-Falls Church line, on the first floor of a pricy condo building. From driving past it looks a lot like our local Cosi, which is on the first floor of another pricy new condo building. And that means they both look a lot like Panera, of course.

The menu looks similar too -- sandwiches, salads, little pizzas.

Let me guess: one of these chains was founded by some guy who worked at the other?

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  1. Bear Rock started in our area (Raleigh/Durham, NC) about 10 years ago. They're a sandwich chain, much like any other only with a "mountain lodge" theme. In fact, they remind me more than a bit of Atlanta Bread Company. The food is average for it's segment - not really good, not really bad.

    I haven't been in one in a while but I see that the menu has been tweaked some and the prices have certainly gone up. The menu tweaking is in keeping with the owner's business plan. This chain was never meant to be an independent restaurant. It was started with the express purpose of franchising widely. It seems that to succeed in expanding the franchise the menu had to change up some. The pizzas are definitely new.

    I've never seen a Cosi and I don't know when Panera started up so I can't say who got there first but in catching/creating a trend similar concepts tend to arise at about the same time.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rockycat

      Thanks rockycat -- definitely sounds like the same ol same ol. Panera just introduced little pizzas too.

    2. For me, the only thing that differentiates Bear Rock from Panera (sorry, I don't know what Cosi is) is that they do baked potatoes.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Suzy Q

        I tried Bear Rock for lunch yesterday. I got a Napa Valley Salad. It was pretty good but for $7.99 could have been more filling. Their breakfast menu looks worthy of some investigation.

        Cosi is another soup, salad, sandwich chain:

      2. We have a BRC in Orlando. Overall, not as good as Panera, but I go for the Bear Rock honey mustard, which looks more like molasses than honey mustard. IMO, there are not many better things to put on a sandwich.

        1. I have tried the Bear Rock a few times...My wife and I actually call it BearPanCosiBucks Cafe. I was reasonably happy until I went there this week and the service was really slow, the pancakes and my coffee were cold, I was not offered a refill on my coffee.

          Bear Rock is not as good as Panera, Cosi or even Starbucks. I'm glad to have a new option in the neighborhood. But now that I've been there and done that, I'm thinking what else could have gone in that space.

          1 Reply
          1. re: grubbinVA

            I'm really not sure how you can compare Bear Rock to Starbucks, unless you're just talking about for coffee. Bear Rock is an actual restaurant that serves meals; Starbucks is a coffee shop that usually has a cold pastry selection on hand. If I want coffee, I'm not going to Bear Rock or Panera - but if I want real food, I don't go to Starbucks.

          2. Does anyone know how to make the Bear Rock honey mustard? The stuff on the Moose. It is amazing and I want to know how to make it at home.