Panera Bread is moving its in-store bakery ovens to center stage.
The fast-casual chain unveiled a next-gen restaurant design that combines enhanced digital capabilities and increased drive-thru access with an inviting in-store environment that positions Panera as a friendly neighborhood bakery. The first location to feature the design will open in November, in Ballwin, Mo., close to Panera’s St. Louis hometown. Panera worked with ChangeUp to design the new concept, which will be featured in new builds and remodels.
The new layout moves the restaurant’s ovens out into the open so that customers “can fully immerse themselves in the experience of baking happening throughout the day,” the company said. The updated environment maintains the brand’s comfortable seating, indoor and outdoor, and signature fireplace.
In other changes, the new concept features a double-lane drive-thru, with one lane dedicated to Panera’s “Rapid Pick-Up” service. It also boasts new digital innovations including contactless dine-in and delivery services, updated ordering kiosks, automatic loyalty identification and a fully digitized menu both in-cafe and in drive-thru.
Customer convenience is one of the highest priorities of the new design. Customers who want a fully contactless experience will be able to order their meal from their own phone for dine-in, pick-up, drive-thru or delivery. Once the order is made, shoppers will be notified via mobile notifications when their food is ready, minimalizing interaction with cashiers, kiosks, paper receipts or pagers.
"Innovation is core to who we are and with our new next-generation Panera concept, we are doing what we've always done – keeping a personalized experience for the guest at the heart of everything we do," said Eduardo Luz, chief brand and concept officer, Panera Bread, which is owned by restaurant conglomerate JAB Holding. "We're doubling down on what has always made Panera unique—creating human connection through caring associates and a warm, inviting environment filled with the smell of freshly-baked bread—while continuing to be a leader in digital access for the off-premise world."
The next-generation bakery-cafes will also introduce an updated Panera Bread logo and brand identity. The refreshed Panera "Mother Bread" logo is a nod to the chain’s more than 30-year-old sourdough starter from which all of its sourdough bread is still made today. Panera worked with BrandOpus to develop the updated brand identity.
As of April 27, 2021, Panera had 2,118 locations in 48 states and in Ontario, Canada, operating under the Panera Bread or Saint Louis Bread Co banners.