Panera Bread Continues To Innovate The Fast Casual Guest Experience, Announces Plans For New Bakery-Cafe Design
Panera’s new next-generation bakery-cafe doubles down on dine-in warmth while enhancing the digital guest experience and drive-thru.
ST. LOUIS, MO (StLouisRestaurantDirectory) Panera, a leader and innovator in the fast-casual restaurant segment, today unveiled its next-generation Panera bakery-cafe restaurant design. As the brand that introduced fast-casual to the industry, Panera is redefining its modern experience to serve today’s guests. This includes enhanced digital capabilities, personalized options, and more drive-thru access for an increasingly off-premise world; yet, the brand is still betting on dine-in with comfortable seating around its signature fireplace and a focus on its unique craft bakery experience within a vibrant, warm and welcoming environment.
The new restaurant design builds upon Panera’s innovation in digital and positions the concept to continue to thrive in off-premise channels, including Delivery, Drive-Thru, and Rapid Pick Up® – both in-cafe and via a dedicated drive-thru lane. Equal in importance is a modernized and revitalized dine-in experience, as the brand believes both dine-in and off-premise will continue to grow.
“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 & Concept Officer, Panera Bread. “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 Panera next-generation bakery-cafe, the first of which will open this November in Ballwin, MO, right outside of Panera’s hometown of St. Louis, features the following main updates:
- Craft Bakery Experience – Each night, bakers in every Panera bake bread and bakery items fresh. Now, Panera is moving the bakery-cafe ovens to be in full view of the guests, so they can fully immerse themselves in the experience of baking happening throughout the day.
- Dual-Drive Thru with Dedicated Rapid Pick-Up Lane – Panera aims to significantly increase its locations with a drive-thru, and the new concept features a double-lane drive-thru, with one lane dedicated specifically to the brand’s signature Rapid Pick-Up service.
- Enhanced Digital Experience – Already a leader in the digital guest experience, the new Panera concept will feature new digital innovations, including contactless dine-in and delivery, updated ordering kiosks, automatic loyalty identification, and a fully digitized menu both in-cafe and in a drive-thru.
- Contactless Ordering – This new service will allow guests who choose a fully contactless experience to easily order their meal from their own phone for dine-in, Rapid Pick-Up, drive-thru, or delivery. Once the order is made, guests are notified via mobile notifications when their food is ready, minimalizing interaction with cashiers, kiosks, paper receipts, or pagers.
- Refreshed Brand Identity – The next-generation bakery cafes will introduce an updated Panera Bread logo and brand identity, unveiled in 2021. The refreshed Panera “Mother Bread” logo is a nod to Panera Breads more than 30-year-old sourdough starter from which all of its sourdough bread is still made today.
- Intuitive Guest Journey – A core focus of the next-generation design has been improving the guest journey and making it more intuitive. This includes deploying clear and concise wayfinding on the cafe’s exterior and refining how the guest routes through the cafe after entering the front door – from experiencing our bakery, ordering (either through a traditional register or a digital kiosk), and picking up their food. Guest convenience is one of the highest priorities of the new design.
The next-generation Panera bakery-cafe is the latest update in a series of digital and menu innovations from the brand over the course of the last year, including Panera Curbside, its $8.99/month plus tax premium coffee subscription, as well as a new Flatbread Pizza category that has expanded to five delicious flatbread offerings. By seamlessly integrating orders with the company’s loyalty program—MyPanera®—guests can save their favorites, earn and track rewards, and receive one-to-one tailored content.