Panera Bread

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Panera Bread
IndustryFast food
Founded1987; 31 years ago (1987)
Kirkwood, Missouri
FounderKen Rosenthal
Ronald M. Shaich
Louis Kane
HeadquartersSunset Hills, Missouri
Number of locations
Over 2,000
Area served
United States
Key people
Ronald M. Shaich - founder and chairman[1][2]
Ken Rosenthal - founder of The St. Louis Bread Comapny
Blaine E. Hurst - CEO and president[1] (2017–present)
Charles J. Chapman, III - executive VP and COO[1]
Sue Morelli - president of Au Bon Pain[1]
ProductsFast casual/Bakery-café, including several varieties of bread, such as bagel and baguettes, cold sandwiches, hot panini, salads, soups, coffee and teas
RevenueIncrease US$2.795 billion (2016)
Decrease US$145 million (2016)
Total assetsDecrease US$1.301 billion (2016)
Total equityDecrease US$288 million (2016)
Number of employees
Over 50,000
ParentJAB Holding Company
SubsidiariesParadise Bakery & Café
Au Bon Pain
Footnotes / references
Headquarters in Sunset Hills, Missouri
Panera Bread in the Chicago Loop in 2006.
Panera Delivery Vehicle
A drive-through location
Panera Bread in Canada

Panera Bread Company is a chain store of bakery-café fast casual restaurants with over 2,000 locations, all of which are in the United States and Canada. Its headquarters are in Sunset Hills, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. The company operates as Saint Louis Bread Company in Greater St. Louis, where it has over 100 locations.[4] Offerings include soups, salads, pasta, sandwiches, specialty drinks, and bakery items.

The company, which also owns Au Bon Pain, is owned by JAB Holding Company, which is in turn owned by the Reimann family of Germany.[5]

Panera offers a wide array of pastries and baked goods, such as croissants, bagels, cookies, scones, muffins and brownies. These, along with Panera's artisan breads, are typically baked before dawn by an on-staff baker. Aside from the bakery section, Panera has a regular menu for dine-in or takeout including: Sandwiches, Panini, Pastas, Soups, Flatbreads, Salads, Side choices, Panera Kids, Fruit smoothies, Frozen drinks, Iced drinks, Coffee, tea, and lemonade, Espresso drinks, Lattes, and Hot chocolate. Panera also has a selection of seasonal offerings, such as the Strawberry Poppy Seed Chicken salad offered during the summer season and the Roasted Turkey Cranberry Flatbread in the winter.[6][7]

During its final 20 years as a public company, from 1997 to 2017, it was the best performing restaurant stock, delivering an 86-fold return to shareholders.[8]

Panera was once the largest provider of free Wi-Fi Hotspots in the United States.[9] Many locations restrict the duration of free Wi-Fi to 30 or 60 minutes during peak hours.[10]


In 1987, The St. Louis Bread Company was founded by Ken & Linda Rosenthal with the first location in Kirkwood, Missouri. The Rosenthals invested $150,000 and received a $150,000 Small Business Administration loan.[11]

In 1993, Au Bon Pain Co., a public company purchased the St. Louis Bread Company for $23 million.[12][13][14]

In 1997, Au Bon Pain changed the company name to Panera, a word that has roots meaning "bread basket" in Latin.[14] At the same time, the St. Louis Bread Company renovated its 20 bakery-cafés in the St. Louis area.[8][14]

In May 1999, Au Bon Pain Co. sold Au Bon Pain to Bruckmann, Rosser, Sherrill & Co. for $78 million to focus on the Panera Bread chain.[15][16]

Panera Bread moved its headquarters to Richmond Heights, Missouri in 2000.[17]

In 2007, Panera Bread purchased a 51% stake in Paradise Bakery & Café, a Phoenix metropolitan area-based concept with over 70 locations in 10 states, predominantly in the west and southwest, for $21.1 million.[18] The company purchased the balance of Paradise in June 2009.[8]

In February 2008, a class action lawsuit was filed against the company alleging it failed to disclose material adverse facts about the company's financial well-being, business relationships, and prospects.[19] In February 2011, Panera agreed to pay $5.75 million to shareholders while admitting no wrongdoing, settling the lawsuit.[20][21]

In October 2008, Panera Bread expanded into Canada, opening locations in Richmond Hill, Thornhill, Oakville, and Mississauga in the Greater Toronto Area.[22][23]

In November 2010, Panera Bread relocated its headquarters to Sunset Hills while vacating its Richmond Heights headquarters and Brentwood, Missouri offices.[24] The company leased additional space for its headquarters in 2013.[25]

In May 2014, Panera unveiled "Panera 2.0," a series of integrated technologies including new capabilities for digital ordering, payment, operations and, ultimately, consumption. It includes tablet kiosks with iPads, which the company calls Fast Lane, where customers may place an order and pay without approaching the counter.[26][27] In addition to the kiosks, customers could also place orders and pay via an app on their smartphone or tablet.[28] In 2017, digital orders accounted for over $1 billion in orders, or 26% of sales.[29][30]

In June 2014, Panera unveiled its official Food Policy which detailed commitments to clean ingredients, transparency and a positive impact on the food system.[31] This policy outlines the company's values and sets a course for continuous improvement. Panera also made a commitment to remove artificial additives (colors, flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives) on its 'No No List' from the food in its US bakery-cafes by the end of 2016.[32]

On March 23, 2016, Panera opened its 2,000th location, a cafe in Elyria, Ohio.[33]

In September 2015, many Paradise Bakery & Café locations were rebranded as Panera Bread.[34]

In January 2017, Panera announced its food menu was free of artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives.[35][5]

On July 18, 2017, JAB Holding Company acquired the company for $7.16 billion.[5]

On November 8, 2017, Panera announced that founder Ron Shaich was stepping down as CEO, with company president Blaine Hurst to take over. Shaich remained chairman.[36] The company also announced the acquisition of Au Bon Pain.[5][37][5][38][39]

In January 2018, the company formed a consulting business to help restaurants remove artificial ingredients from their menus.[40][41]

On April 2, 2018, Brian Krebs reported that the Panera Bread website had leaked between 7 million and 37 million customer records — including names, email and physical addresses, customer loyalty account numbers, birthdays and the last four digits of the customer’s credit card number — for at least eight months before the site was taken offline. Panera was notified privately about the vulnerability in August 2017, but failed to fix it until after it was disclosed publicly eight months later.[42][43][44] Panera said that the leak affected fewer than 10,000 customers and had been fixed.[45]

In May 2018, the company introduced delivery services to 897 cities in 43 states, employing its own drivers.[46][47][48] According to the company, this created 13,000 jobs.[49]

Social responsibility[edit]

Peanut butter allergy lawsuit[edit]

In 2016, a lawsuit was filed after an employee at a Natick, Massachusetts store put peanut butter on a sandwich, despite being informed that the person receiving the sandwich had a peanut allergy. The plaintiffs charged the company and those employees involved with intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress as well as assault and battery.[50] The recipient of the sandwich was hospitalized briefly.[51] Less than one month after the incident, another restaurant reportedly had a nearly identical incident with another person who had a severe allergy to peanuts.[50] In June 2018, a judge sent the case to a jury.[52]

Panera Cares: non-profit restaurants[edit]

In 2010, the company's nonprofit foundation created Panera Cares, a "Pay what you can" restaurant in its home market of St. Louis.[53] CEO Ron Shaich based the idea on an NBC profile of the SAME Cafe in Denver, Colorado.[54] It later expanded the concept to Dearborn, Michigan; Portland, Oregon; Chicago; and Boston.[55][56] Each site served approximately 3,500 people every week.[57][58][59] The Panera Cares in Chicago shut down at the end of January 2015.[60] The Panera Cares in Portland, Oregon shut down at the end of June 2016. The original location near St. Louis closed in January 2018.[61] There is currently only one location, in Boston.[62]

Free-range eggs[edit]

On November 5, 2015, Panera announced that it will use free-range eggs in all of its stores by 2020. Panera also announced the addition of more plant-based proteins, such as edamame and organic quinoa, to its menu.[63] At the time of the announcement, the company said it was 21% cage-free in the roughly 70 million eggs it used in 2015.[64] In December 2016, it published its third animal welfare progress report, announcing new efforts to improve broiler chicken welfare.[65]

Community giving[edit]

The Day-End Dough-Nation program provides unsold bread and baked goods to local area hunger relief agencies and charities. Panera Bread bakery-cafes donate $100 million worth of unsold bread and baked goods annually to local organizations in need.[66] Panera also supports events held by nonprofit organizations serving those in need by donating a certificate or fresh bakery products.[67]

Employment lawsuits[edit]

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.[68]

Violation of California Labor Code[edit]

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 paid $5 million to settle all claims and denied any wrongdoing.[69][70]

2011 racial discrimination lawsuit[edit]

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.[71][72] The plaintiff also said he was fired after requesting another month off after returning from 3 months of sick leave.[71] 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."[71] The plaintiff worked in a store owned by franchisee Sam Covelli,[73] who also owns the stores that were involved in the 2003 racial discrimination lawsuit.[74][75] Covelli Enterprises is the single largest franchisee of Panera Bread with nearly 200 stores in northeast Ohio, western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Florida.[76] The lawsuit was settled in June 2012.[77]

2017 class action for failure to pay overtime wages[edit]

In December 2017, former employees filed a class action lawsuit against the company, claiming that they were not paid overtime wages.[78]

Financial performance[edit]

In 2011, revenue was US$2.7 billion,[79] operating income was US$259 million,[79] net income was US$160 million,[79] assets were US$1.5 billion,[80] and equity was US$497.3 million.[80]

In 2015, annual revenues were $2,681,580,000 up from $2,529,195,000 the year prior. Net income came to $149,325,000 down from $179,293,000 the year prior. Total assets equaled $1,475,318,000.[81]

Awards and recognition[edit]

In 2005, Panera ranked 37th on Bloomberg BusinessWeek's list of "Hot Growth Companies", earning $38.6 million with a 42.9 percent increase in profits.[82][83]

In a 2008 Health magazine study, Panera Bread was judged North America's healthiest fast casual restaurant.[84]

In 2009 and 2012, Zagat named Panera one of the most popular restaurants for eating on the go.[85]

Panera was also rated No. 1 for Best Healthy Option,[86] Best Salad,[85] and Best Facilities, among restaurants with fewer than 5,000 locations.[86]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]