The south Louisiana franchisee of Panera Bread is in the final stages of negotiation to lease four acres on the east side of Jefferson Highway south of Corporate Boulevard. Stores are in the works for Lafayette and New Orleans as well.

Tom Krings, operating partner of CSC Investments, said he expects the deal on the Baton Rouge property to close by the end of the year. Construction on the now vacant parcel could start by February and the store could be open by June.

Krings said he expects the third time to be the charm for the popular bakery chain specializing in sandwiches, soups and salads. The last potential location at Towne Center, just around the corner, was blocked earlier this year by a restriction against another bakery in that development.

Krings said Whole Foods had no objections, but it proved too difficult to get Towne Center’s owners to alter the terms of the original agreement and Krings moved on.

Krings, whose company has 21 Panera locations, mainly in Tennessee, has opened stores in Covington and Metairie and has three others scheduled next year outside of Baton Rouge.

The New Orleans location will open in July on Carrollton Avenue across from Home Depot, in the center to be anchored by a new Winn-Dixie.

Krings could not disclose the location of the Lafayette store, but said he hopes to have it open by the fourth quarter of 2013.