A post that I recently read about Panera Bread’s expansion plans gave me hope in 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, high quality ingredients, convenient and competitive food offerings, and lots of room for growth, Panera Bread Store Hours has created a formula that will help guarantee solid returns for years to come. Panera currently has 1,250 locations with intends to open yet another 80-90 locations this season, a rise of around 7% of its current locations. In California, Panera has just 80 locations, so you will find 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 accepted as the top performer in 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-considered, the atmosphere is inviting and warm, and also the prices are reasonable…and, Personally, i can’t imagine a fast casual cafe chain which comes even close to winning vs. Panera on any one of those dimensions. Au Bon Pain was created on the same premise that brought Panera success – hospitality, quality, fresh baked goods – yet it is, for me, a pale comparison. Take for instance, hospitality – in What Time Does Panera Bread Open, you might be given a beeper while waiting for your food, so there is absolutely no confusion as soon as your food is ready and in many cases, someone behind the counter will get out of their approach to bring your food in your table. The food is served on actual plates with real silverware and also the seating includes comfortable booths and cozy armchairs. In Au Bon Pain, the silverware is plastic, the chairs are stiff and you also must bring the food to your table yourself and also the order process involves a less personal approach of completing a form and handing the shape towards the order taker. With regards to quality and freshness, Panera also wins hands-down. The bread is served right out of the oven and they sell their baguettes to adopt home, a thing that Au Bon Pain either fails to do or fails to effectively communicate that it does.
Most of us know the way a hot sandwich can draw out the ingredients’ flavors – Panera knows this and offers paninis – a design of grilling sandwiches that has become very popular. At Au Bon Pain, instead of paninis, it offers ‘hot sandwiches’, that are sandwiches that are continuously kept warm under a heat lamp. If you’ve ever had food that is certainly kept warm like that, you’ll know it just doesn’t taste very good or very fresh. For a place that promotes the quality and freshness of the breads, Au Bon Pain simply qxuhyp not do pretty much as good employment executing. Finally, so far as I can tell, Panera also wins on value. At Panera Bread Corporate Office Phone Number, your order of a sandwich automatically includes a bag of chips along with a pickle thrown in and they also smartly provide a half-sandwich and soup or salad combination, attractive to health-conscious customers. At Au Bon Pain, almost every ingredient is line-itemed and you certainly don’t get the pickle…leading to your tab that is almost always$1-$2 more. So, what went wrong with Au Bon Pain? In 1999, it went public and then got shuffled around to different 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 through the years and an absence of a serious 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 opt for lunch?