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, good quality ingredients, convenient and competitive food offerings, and lots of room for growth, Panera Bread Hours Today has created a formula which should help guarantee solid returns for years to come. Panera currently has 1,250 locations with wants to open an extra 80-90 locations this year, a rise of around 7% of its current locations. In California, Panera has just 80 locations, so you can 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 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 love 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 consider a fast casual cafe chain which comes even close to winning vs. Panera on some of those dimensions. Au Bon Pain was created on the same premise that brought Panera success – hospitality, quality, fresh baked goods – yet it is, in my view, a pale comparison. Take for instance, hospitality – in Panera Bread Hours Of Operation, you might be given a beeper while waiting around for your food, so there is no confusion as soon as your food is ready and even, someone behind the counter will fall out of their approach to bring your food to your table. The food is served on actual plates with real silverware as well as the seating includes comfortable booths and comfy armchairs. In Au Bon Pain, the silverware is plastic, the chairs are stiff and also you must bring the food in 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 from the oven and they also sell their baguettes to consider home, something which Au Bon Pain either fails to do or fails to effectively communicate that it does.
All of us know just how a hot sandwich can draw out the ingredients’ flavors – Panera understands this and gives paninis – a style of grilling sandwiches that has been very popular. At Au Bon Pain, rather than paninis, it gives you ‘hot sandwiches’, that are sandwiches that are continuously kept warm within a heat lamp. If you’ve had food which is kept warm like that, you’ll know that it just doesn’t taste very good or very fresh. To get a place that promotes the quality and freshness of the breads, Au Bon Pain simply qxuhyp not do as good work executing. Finally, in terms of I can tell, Panera also wins on value. At Panera Bread, your order of any sandwich automatically includes a bag of chips along with a pickle thrown in plus they smartly provide a half-sandwich and soup or salad combination, attractive to health-conscious customers. At Au Bon Pain, nearly every ingredient is line-itemed and also 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 made an effort 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 needed to. But, let’s get real – in a health conscious, quality, value driven economy like the one which we live in – where could you rather opt for lunch?