Au Bon Pain

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Au Bon Pain
IndustryFast-casual restaurant, bakery, and café
Founded1976; 45 years ago (1976) in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
FounderLouis Rapuano
Louis I. Kane
United States
Number of locations
Area served
United States
OwnerAMPEX Brands
Au Bon Pain wordmark
Former Au Bon Pain headquarters in Boston
Au Bon Pain at Siam Square in Bangkok
Au Bon Pain Harvard Square
Au Bon Pain in the Hesburgh Library at the University of Notre Dame.

Au Bon Pain (French pronunciation: ​[o bɔ̃ pɛ̃], meaning "at (or to) the Good Bread"[1]) is an American fast casual restaurant, bakery, and café chain headquartered in Richardson, Texas and operates 175 locations in the United States, and Thailand.[2] The company is currently owned by Ampex Brands.

Au Bon Pain serves baked goods such as bread, pastries, croissants, and bagels as well as tea, coffee and espresso beverages, breakfast foods such as egg sandwiches, and lunch items such as soup, salads, and sandwiches. The company also offers catering services.[3]

Most of the company's locations are found on the East Coast of the United States, notably Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston.[4] Locations are either company-owned or franchised. Most of the company-owned locations are in Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington D.C. while franchise locations are operating in 19 states around the country, as well as internationally.[5]


Pavailler,[6] a French manufacturer of baking equipment, established the company as a showcase for its ovens in 1976 at Faneuil Hall in Boston. The company's principals included Louis Rapuano, Pavailler Machinery, and two minor investors. Pavailler contributed baking machinery to the venture. Au Bon Pain sold croissants, pastries, and bread produced by French bakers. In 1977, it opened stores in Hackensack, New Jersey and New York City.[7]

In 1978, Au Bon Pain was acquired by Louis I. Kane, a venture capitalist who liked the smell of the products, for $1.5 million. The business model was changed to sell baked goods instead of ovens.[2] Francois Marin was hired to open and manage the first Au Bon Pain in Boston's Quincy Market.[8]

By 1980, Au Bon Pain had over $1 million in sales, but was still losing money.[9][10][11]

In 1981, the company was suffering from its debt and on the verge of bankruptcy, and a 60% interest in the company was acquired by Ronald M. Shaich and his father.[10]

In 1991, the company listed on the stock market via an initial public offering.[12]

In 1993, the company acquired Saint Louis Bread Company, the predecessor of Panera Bread, for $23 million.[10][12][13][14] The company also acquired the U.S. bakery locations of Warburtons, which were converted to Au Bon Pain locations.[15]

In 1996, the company announced plans to upgrade the interior of its stores after reporting a loss.[16]

In 1997, the company considered opening locations in Peru.[17]

In 1999, Au Bon Pain Co. Inc. (later renamed Panera Bread) sold its Au Bon Pain division to Bruckmann, Rosser, Sherrill & Co.. In 2000, it was sold to Compass Group.[18]

In 2000, the company reached a franchise agreement with Gourmet Coffee Co. Ltd. of Taiwan to open the first locations of Au Bon Pain in Taipei.[19]

In 2005, Au Bon Pain management, in partnership with PNC Financial Services, purchased 75% of the company. Compass Group retained the remaining 25%.[20]

In March 2008, LNK Partners, a private equity firm, acquired a controlling interest in the company.[21]

In 2011, all of its locations were renovated in a major remodeling program.[22]

In 2013, the company announced that by 2017, it would only use free-range eggs.[23]

In 2014, under the leadership of Sue Morelli, Au Bon Pain was named one of the top women-led businesses in Massachusetts.[24]

In January 2015, Au Bon Pain hired Katherine See as Executive Chef.[25]

In 2015, UNITE HERE, a labor union, targeted the company's employees at Philadelphia International Airport.[26] The union published a report that the company was underperforming.[27]

In June 2016, Morelli retired and Ray Blanchette was named President and CEO.[28]

On November 8, 2017, Panera Bread announced the acquisition of Au Bon Pain, which had split off from Panera in 1999 after being created in 1981.[12][29][30][31] Following the deal, Ron Shaich stepped down as the Au Bon Pain's chief executive, to be succeeded by Blaine Hurst, Panera's president.[32]

In 2018, the company looked to close its 9 locations in Washington, D.C. or convert them to Panera Bread locations.[33]

In December 2019, Au Bon Pain closed its last location in Cambridge, Massachusetts, ending over 35 years of doing business in their former flagship city.[34]

In June 2021, AMPEX Brands purchased the chain from Panera Bread in a deal which included around $60 million in assets. The deal ensured the preservation of the Au Bon Pain brand in light of the closing and conversion of various Au Bon Pain locations into Panera Bread locations. AMPEX Brands declined to disclose the exact value of the deal, but confirmed the inclusion of assets and franchise rights for 131 additional locations.[35][36] AMPEX Brands also concurrently announced the move of the company's headquarters from Boston to its own headquarters in Texas.[37]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ KING, CHRISTINA B (June 24, 1992). "AU BON PAIN Trademark of Au Bon Pain Co., Inc. - Registration Number 1757444 - Serial Number 74287859". Justia Trademarks.
  2. ^ a b "Au Bon Pain: About". Au Bon Pain.
  3. ^ "Au Bon Pain Catering". Au Bon Pain.
  4. ^ "All Locations | Au Bon Pain". Retrieved June 30, 2021.
  5. ^ "Au Bon Pain Bakery Cafe Franchise Cost & Opportunities | Franchise Help". Retrieved June 30, 2021.
  6. ^ Pavailler
  7. ^ "Bakery: Au Bon Pain". Architecture: Tomorrowland Today. New York. September 19, 1977. Retrieved January 6, 2020 – via Google Books.
  8. ^ KOLNOS, JASON (February 29, 2004). "Serving up fun: Francois Marin, retired founder of Au Bon Pain chain turns attention to volleyball league for seniors". Cape Cod Times.
  9. ^ Stewart, Brandi (December 7, 2007). "Pastry parlay: From Au Bon Pain to Panera; How Panera Bread founder Ron Shaich sold his first business to build his second". CNN.
  10. ^ a b c Kowitt, Beth (July 17, 2012). "A founder's bold gamble on Panera". Fortune.
  11. ^ "founder Ron Shaich '76 to speak at commencement, May 18, 2014 - Clark University" (Press release). Clark University. March 26, 2014.
  12. ^ a b c "Panera Bread Announces Definitive Agreement to Acquire Au Bon Pain" (Press release). Globe Newswire. November 8, 2017.
  13. ^ DEAGON, BRIAN (January 25, 2010). "Panera's Ron Shaich Really Rolls In The Dough" (PDF). Investor's Business Daily.
  14. ^ "AU BON PAIN TO ACQUIRE SAINT LOUIS BREAD COMPANY". The New York Times. Associated Press. November 12, 1993.(subscription required)
  15. ^ "Au Bon Pain bakery cafes take over Warburtons restaurants". United Press International. January 25, 1993.
  16. ^ "Au Bon Pain Stock Drops 11% On News That Loss Is Expected". The Wall Street Journal. October 7, 1996.
  17. ^ "U.S. Bakery Chain Au Bon Pain May Open Operations in Peru". The Wall Street Journal. Associated Press. October 12, 1997.
  18. ^ Goodison, Donna L. (December 4, 2000). "Au Bon Pain acquisition may be near". American City Business Journals.
  19. ^ Goodison, Donna L. (April 3, 2000). "Au Bon Pain to serve its concept in Taiwan's capital city". American City Business Journals.
  20. ^ Stempel, Jonathan; Dorfman, Brad (January 16, 2008). "LNK to buy majority stake in Au Bon Pain". Reuters.
  21. ^ "Au Bon Pain Acquisition by LNK Partners and Management Closes" (Press release). PR Newswire. March 5, 2008.
  22. ^ "Au Bon Pain Launches Cafe Remodel Program as Part of National Expansion Strategy; Transforms New York City Cafes" (Press release). PR Newswire. June 8, 2011.
  23. ^ "Au Bon Pain Continues Shift to Eggs from Cage-Free Hens; Commits to 100% Gestation Crate–Free for Pork" (Press release). Business Wire. January 21, 2013.
  24. ^ "2014 Top 100 Women-Led Businesses in Massachusetts". The Boston Globe. October 25, 2014.
  25. ^ Thorn, Bret (January 16, 2015). "Au Bon Pain names new corporate executive chef". Nation's Restaurant News.
  26. ^ Bartlett, Jessica (August 18, 2015). "Union targets Au Bon Pain's 'healthy' reputation as wage push falls flat". American City Business Journals.
  27. ^ "Au Bon Pain's underperformance under LNK Partners ownership continues with loss of units in fiscal year 2014, according to UNITE HERE" (Press release). Business Wire. October 7, 2015.
  28. ^ "Au Bon Pain Appoints Ray Blanchette as President and CEO" (Press release). PRWeb. June 24, 2016.
  29. ^ Jargon, Julie (November 8, 2017). "Panera Bread Founder Ron Shaich to Step Down as CEO". The Wall Street Journal.
  30. ^ Harris, David L. (November 8, 2017). "Panera will buy Au Bon Pain to gain bigger slice of bakery-cafe market". American City Business Journals.
  31. ^ Meyer, Zlati (November 8, 2017). "What's buzzing at Panera? It's buying Au Bon Pain and the CEO is resigning". USA Today.
  32. ^ Hsu, Tiffany (November 8, 2017). "Panera Bread Buys Au Bon Pain, Adding to JAB's Breakfast Empire". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 16, 2019.
  33. ^ Cooper, Rebecca (March 16, 2018). "Parent co. of Panera looks to close nine D.C. Au Bon Pains". American City Business Journals.
  34. ^ Levy, Marc (December 16, 2019). "Final Cambridge Au Bon Pain closes Tuesday, wrapping up 35 years in former flagship city". Cambridge Day. Retrieved October 28, 2020.
  35. ^ Haddon, Heather (June 30, 2021). "WSJ News Exclusive | Au Bon Pain Bought by Restaurant Franchisee Ampex". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved June 30, 2021.
  36. ^ Rosen, Andy. "Boston stalwart Au Bon Pain sold, again - The Boston Globe". Retrieved June 30, 2021.
  37. ^ Welker, Grant (June 30, 2021). "Au Bon Pain bought by Texas franchisee". Boston Business Journal. American City Business Journals.

External links[edit]