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A Second Au Bon Pain Opens Near the Square

New Cafe Takes Over Vie de France Site

By Stephen J. Newman

Yuppies near Mather House can rest easy now that Au Bon Pain has opened another restaurant on Mass Ave.

The new cafe, the 14th "Au Bon Pain Express" to appear on the Boston area's fast food scene (the 15th makes its debut next week), is smaller than the area's previously existing store across the street from Harvard Yard. The Express restaurants, which are almost completely self-service, serve fewer people than do the standard shops.

Vie de France, another restaurant, used to occupy the site of the new Au Bon Pain, but shut down a few months ago after its lease expired and its rent increased dramatically. A similar rent hike led to the closing of the Penguin Bookshop, located in the same building.

The Vie de France chain sells sandwiches and baked goods similar to those Au Bon Pain sells.

Au Bon Pain district manager Ruth Cherneff said she had heard that Vie de France was not very efficient and could not maintain customer loyalty.

"I heard their products were greasy," she said.

Au Bon Pain prides itself on its devotion to customer service, she said, adding that the new store keeps fresh flowers on the table. Au Bon Pain Express also has a brand-new frozen yogurt machine.

'Plenty of Customers'

Company officials say they do not expect the new cafe, which is located at the intersection of Mt. Auburn St. and Mass Ave, to drain business away from the old one, which is only a few blocks away.

"I don't think we'll be competing," Cherneff said. "There are plenty of customers for both of us."

There are currently more than 80 restaurants nationwide, including franchises, in the Au Bon Pain organization. About 20 of them are located in the Boston area.

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