An article that I recently read about Panera Bread’s expansion plans gave me hope within this troubling economy (see: “Panera Looks to New Venues in Expansion,” Reuters, 3/19/09). A national bakery chain with a well-developed brand name, top quality ingredients, convenient and competitive food offerings, and lots of room for growth, What Time Does Panera Bread Stop Serving Breakfast has developed an equation that should help guarantee solid returns for years to come. Panera currently has 1,250 locations with wants to open yet another 80-90 locations this season, an increase of about 7% of its current locations. In California, Panera has just 80 locations, so there are considerable opportunities within that state alone. Since becoming wholly independent from Au Bon Pain Co. in 1999, Panera’s stock has grown thirteen fold, and in 2006, was recognized as the top performer within the restaurant category for one-, five- and ten-year returns to shareholders, so it’s success is nothing sudden – it has been growing slowly and steadily.
Personally, I really like Panera. The bread is freshly baked, the menu offerings are well-thought out, the atmosphere is inviting and warm, and also the cost is reasonable…and, Personally, i can’t think of a fast casual cafe chain which comes even close to winning vs. Panera on any of those dimensions. Au Bon Pain was made on the same premise that brought Panera success – hospitality, quality, fresh baked goods – however it is, in my opinion, a pale comparison. Take for instance, hospitality – in https://Allfoodmenuprices.Org/Panera-Bread-Hours-Open-Close/, you happen to be given a beeper while waiting for your food, so there is absolutely no confusion whenever your food is ready and in many cases, someone behind the counter will get out of their way to bring your food for your table. The food is served on actual plates with real silverware and the seating includes comfortable booths and cozy armchairs. In Au Bon Pain, the silverware is plastic, the chairs are stiff and you must bring the food for your table yourself and the order process involves a less personal approach of completing a form and handing the shape towards the order taker. In terms of quality and freshness, Panera also wins hands-down. The bread is served right out of the oven and they also sell their baguettes to consider home, a thing that Au Bon Pain either does not do or does not effectively communicate that it does.
Most of us know how a hot sandwich can reveal the ingredients’ flavors – Panera knows this and offers paninis – a style of grilling sandwiches that has become extremely popular. At Au Bon Pain, rather than paninis, it gives you ‘hot sandwiches’, which can be sandwiches which can be continuously kept warm within a heat lamp. If you’ve ever had food that is kept warm this way, you’ll know it just doesn’t taste very good or very fresh. To get a place that promotes the standard and freshness of their breads, Au Bon Pain simply qxuhyp not do nearly as good a job executing. Finally, in terms of I can tell, Panera also wins on value. At Panera Bread Headquarters, your order of the sandwich automatically features a bag of chips and a pickle thrown in plus they smartly offer a half-sandwich and soup or salad combination, attractive to health-conscious customers. At Au Bon Pain, nearly every ingredient is line-itemed and you certainly don’t have the pickle…leading to some tab which is typically$1-$2 more. So, what went wrong with Au Bon Pain? In 1999, it went public then got shuffled around to several private equity groups. It certainly hasn’t changed much through the years and hasn’t attempted to improve its offerings in accordance with Panera’s.
Perhaps, owing to its success over the years and a lack of a significant competitor, it hasn’t had to. But, let’s get real – in a health-conscious, quality, value driven economy like one that we live in – where could you rather choose lunch?