Panera Bread

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Panera Bread
Industry Fast Food
Founded Kirkwood, Missouri (1987)
Founder Ken Rosenthal
Ronald M. Shaich
Louis Kane
Headquarters Sunset Hills, Missouri, U.S.
Number of locations
1,800 (April 2014)
Key people
Ronald M. Shaich,
Chairman & Co-CEO
William W. Moreton,
President & Co-CEO[1]
Products Fast casual/Bakery-café, including several varieties of bread, such as bagels and muffins, cold sandwiches, hot panini, salads, soups, coffee and teas
Revenue Increase US$1.82 billion (FY 2011)[2]
Increase US$220.3 million (FY 2011)[2]
Increase US$136.0 million (FY 2011)[2]
Total assets Increase US$1027 million (FY 2011)[3]
Total equity Increase US$655.1 million (FY 2011)[3]
Number of employees
40,100, including 22,700 who work at least 25 hours per week (December 2013)

Panera Bread is an American chain of bakery-café fast casual restaurants in the United States and Canada. Its headquarters are in Sunset Hills, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, and operates as Saint Louis Bread Company in the St. Louis metropolitan area.[4][5] Offerings include soups, salads, pasta, sandwiches, and bakery items.


Panera Bread in Chicago's South Loop

St. Louis Bread was founded in 1987 when the first location was opened in Kirkwood, Missouri. Panera Bread is the newer name[when?] for St. Louis Bread Company outside of the St. Louis area. In 1993, Au Bon Pain Co. purchased the St. Louis Bread Company, which was founded by Ken Rosenthal in 1987. At the same time, the St. Louis Bread Company was renovating its 20 bakery-cafés in the St. Louis area.[6][7]

In May 1999, to expand Panera Bread into a national restaurant, Au Bon Pain Co. sold its other chains, including Au Bon Pain, which is now owned by Compass Group North America.[8] Panera Bread moved into its new headquarters in Richmond Heights, Missouri in 2000.[9] The company operates or franchises 1,800 Panera Bread bakery-cafés in 40 states[6] and 20 facilities that deliver fresh dough to the bakery-cafés every day. Panera Bread's co-CEOs are William Moreton and Ron Shaich.[10]

In the St. Louis area where it was founded, Panera Bread still operates under the name St. Louis Bread Company. The St. Louis metropolitan area has over 101 locations.

In 2005, Panera ranked 37th on BusinessWeek's list of "Hot Growth Companies", earning $38.6 million with a 42.9% increase in profits.[11][12]

In 2007, Panera Bread purchased a majority stake in Paradise Bakery & Café, a Phoenix-based concept with over 70 locations in 10 states (predominantly in the west and southwest). The company purchased the balance of Paradise in June 2009.[13]

In 2008, Panera Bread expanded into Canada, beginning with Richmond Hill, Thornhill, Oakville, and Mississauga in the Toronto area.[14][15]

In a 2008 Health magazine study, Panera Bread was judged North America's healthiest fast casual restaurant.[16]

In 2009 and 2012, the restaurant review service Zagat named Panera one of the most popular restaurants for eating on the go.[17] Panera was also rated #1 for Best Healthy Option,[18] Best Salad,[17] and Best Facilities, among restaurants with fewer than 5,000 locations.[18]

In November 2010 Panera Bread relocated its headquarters to Sunset Hills while vacating its Richmond Heights headquarters and Brentwood offices.[19]

In mid-2015, Panera began executing the "Panera 2.0" experience, to be rolled out in certain locations across the country over a period of approximately 36 months. The focus of this initiative was stated to be "an enhanced customer experience powered by technology and delivered with Panera warmth". A notable feature of Panera 2.0 involves interactive tablet kiosks in certain locations where customers may place an order and pay without approaching the counter.[20]


Panera Bread was the first in its industry to post calorie information voluntarily at all company-owned cafes.[21] Nutritional information is available on Panera Bread’s website for customers to view. The nutrition information provided is based on Panera Bread’s standardized recipes, representative values provided by suppliers, analysis using industry standard software, published resources, and/or testing conducted in accredited laboratories, and are expressed in values based on federal rounding and other applicable regulations.[22]

Panera’s website also includes a nutrition calculator. Customers can browse the menu selection and add items to meals to see per-ingredient nutrition information. The percent daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.[23]

After the recent discovery that some food chains use a chemical called azodicarbonamide in their bread, Panera Bread has made the promise to remove all artificial additives from their food by 2016.[24]

Menu breakdown[edit]

Panera stylizes themselves as a "Bakery-Cafe" and offers a wide array of pastries and baked goods, such as croissants, bagels, cookies, and brownies. These, along with Panera's artisan breads, are typically baked before dawn by an on-staff baker. Some locations also participate in a program that donates their unsold baked goods to local charities after closing hours.[25] Aside from the bakery section, Panera has a regular menu for dine-in or takeout that is broken down into the following categories:[26]

  • Sandwiches
  • Paninis
  • Pastas
  • Soups & More
  • Flatbreads
  • Salads
  • Side Choices
  • Panera Kids
  • Fruit Smoothies
  • Frozen Drinks
  • Iced Drinks
  • Coffee, Tea, and Lemonade
  • Espresso Drinks

Panera also has a selection of seasonal offerings, such as the Strawberry Poppy Seed Chicken salad offered during the summer season.

Panera announced the addition of more plant-based proteins, such as edamame and organic quinoa, to its menu on November 5, 2015. Being one of the first fast-casual restaurants to discuss plant-based proteins caused Fortune reporter Beth Kowitt to speculate that "other restaurants will likely follow the soup-and-sandwich chain's lead." [27]

Community outreach[edit]

Panera Bread created Operation Dough-Nation in 1992 to formalize its commitments to community involvement. The program now has four activities: Community Breadbox cash collection boxes, the Day-End Dough-Nation program, Panera/SCRIP Card fundraising and participation in community events.

The Day-End Dough-Nation program provides unsold bread and baked goods to local area hunger relief agencies and charities. In 2010, Panera Bread bakery-cafes donated a retail value of approximately $100 million worth of unsold bread and baked goods to local organizations in need.[28]


In 2003, a lawsuit was filed by a former employee who claimed he was fired after allegedly refusing to carry out discriminatory policies set forth by his superiors.[29]

On January 25, 2008, a class action lawsuit was filed against Panera Bread alleging Panera failed to disclose material adverse facts about the company's financial well-being, business relationships, and prospects.[30] Panera settled the lawsuit and agreed to pay $5.75 million to shareholders while admitting no wrongdoing.[31]

In 2009 and 2011, class action lawsuits were filed by former workers alleging that the company violated the California Labor Code, failed to pay overtime, failed to provide meal and rest periods, failed to pay employees upon termination, and violated California’s Unfair Competition Law. Panera set aside $5 million for the payment of claims. Panera denied any wrongdoing.[32]

In 2011, a former employee filed a racial discrimination lawsuit alleging that he was eventually fired after repeatedly having a black man work the cash register instead of putting him in a less visible location and having “pretty young girls” be the cashiers, as requested by supervisors.[33] The plaintiff also said he was fired after requesting another month off after returning from three months of medical leave.[33] Panera said it "does not discriminate based on national origin, race or sex," and that the plaintiff "was terminated because he had used all of his medical leave and was unable to return to work."[33] The plaintiff worked in a store owned by franchisee Sam Covelli,[34] who also owns the stores that were involved in the 2003 racial discrimination lawsuit.[35][36] Covelli Enterprises is the single largest franchisee of Panera bread with nearly 200 stores in Northeast Ohio, Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Florida.[37]

Social responsibility[edit]

In 2009, the company's non-profit foundation created Panera Cares, a non-profit "Pay what you can" restaurant in its home market of St. Louis. CEO Ron Shaich based the idea on an NBC profile of the SAME Cafe in Denver, Colorado.[38][39] It has since expanded the concept to Dearborn, Michigan; Portland, Oregon; Chicago; and Boston.[40][41][42] Each site serves approximately 3,500 people every week.[43][44][45] The Panera Cares in Chicago shut down at the end of January 2015.[46]

On November 5, 2015, Panera announced that it will use cage-free eggs in all of its stores by 2020.[47] At the time of the announcement, the company said it was 21 percent cage-free of the roughly 70 million eggs it used in 2015.[48]

Internet access[edit]

In 2006 and 2007, Panera was the largest provider of free Wi-Fi in the United States.[49][50] Many locations restrict the duration of free Wi-Fi to 30 or 60 minutes during peak hours.[51]


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  2. ^ a b c Panera Bread Company (PNRA) annual SEC income statement filing via Wikinvest
  3. ^ a b Panera Bread Company (PNRA) annual SEC balance sheet filing via Wikinvest
  4. ^
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  10. ^ Panera Company Overview "Panera Bread Announces Bill Moreton, Ron Shaich to Become Co-CEOs". 
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  12. ^ "Giving Quick Food A Run For Its Money". Businessweek. April 17, 2006. 
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  17. ^ a b "The 2009 Zagat Survey". Zagat Survey. 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
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  20. ^ "Investor Relations 2.0 Video | Panera Bread". Retrieved 2015-09-06. 
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