Thirty years ago, at a time when quick service meant low quality, Panera set out to challenge this expectation. We believed that food that was good and that you could feel good about, served in a warm and welcoming environment by people who cared, could bring out the best in all of us. To us, that is food as it should be and that is why we exist.
So we began with a simple commitment: to bake bread fresh every day in our bakery-cafes. No short cuts, just bakers with simple ingredients and hot ovens. Each night, any unsold bread and baked goods were shared with neighbors in need.
These traditions carry on today, as we have continued to find ways to be an ally for wellness to our guests. That means crafting a menu of soups, salads and sandwiches that we are proud to feed our families. Like poultry and pork raised without antibiotics on our salads and sandwiches. A commitment to transparency and options that empower our guests to eat the way they want. Seasonal flavors and whole grains. And a commitment to removing or not using artificial additives (flavors, sweeteners, preservatives and colors from artificial sources) in the food in our bakery-cafes. Why? Because we think that simpler is better and we believe in serving food as it should be. Because when you don’t have to compromise to eat well, all that is left is the joy of eating. We’re also focused on improving quality and convenience. With investments in technology and operations, we now offer new ways to enjoy your Panera favorites – like mobile ordering and Rapid PickUp® for to-go orders and delivery – all designed to make things easier for our guests.
As a result, Panera has been one of the most successful restaurant companies in history. What started as one 400-square-foot cookie store in Boston has grown into a company with more than 2,300 units, nearly $6 billion in system-wide sales, and over 100,000 associates. In more than 25 years as a publicly traded company, Panera has created significant shareholder value. Before the JAB acquisition in July 2017, Panera was the best-performing restaurant stock of the past 20 years, delivering a total shareholder return up 86-fold from July 18, 1997, to July 18, 2017, compared to a less than twofold increase for the S&P 500 during the same period.
In late 2017, Panera acquired Au Bon Pain Holding Co. Inc., parent company of the 304-unit Au Bon Pain bakery-café chain. The acquisition reunites Panera and Au Bon Pain, both of which were founded by Ron Shaich, and will intensify Panera’s growth in new real estate channels, including hospitals, universities and transportation centers.
As of March 27, 2018, there were 2,076 bakery-cafes in 46 states and in Ontario, Canada, operating under the Panera Bread®, Saint Louis Bread Co. ® or Paradise Bakery & Cafe® names. For more information, visit panerabread.com or find us on Twitter (@panerabread), Facebook (facebook.com/panerabread) or Instagram (@panerabread).