In a significant fast-casual restaurant merger, Panera Bread, Einstein Bros. Bagels, and Caribou Coffee have all merged to form one company, now called Panera Brands, trade publication Restaurant Business Online reports. That is a lot of carbs and coffee to house under one banner. In total, the group will have around 4,000 locations and 110,000 employees spanning 10 countries.
Current CEO of Panera, Niren Chaudhary, is taking over the new supergroup while also keeping his former duties as head of Panera. “We believe Panera Bread, Caribou Coffee and Einstein Bros. Bagels together will leverage each company’s unique expertise and services to build an unrivaled fast-casual platform with a tremendous runway for growth,” he said in a statement. Sounds like a party to me.
Maybe they can merge the dishes themselves, too. French onion soup bagels? Cream cheese lattes? Hot coffee in a bread bowl? That last one sounds terrible. I’ll take four of them. Actually, make it five.
In yet more obligatory corporate-speak, the company said that the partnership will use Panera’s “broad omnichannel retail network, strong digital infrastructure, industry-leading loyalty program, robust food innovation pipeline, world-class supply chain and access to extremely well-capitalized franchise owners” to accelerate growth for the Caribou Coffee and Einstein Bros. brands. Essentially, what they’re saying is that they’ll use each brand’s particular strengths to weather the post-pandemic fast-casual landscape. But after reading that quote, what I’m seeing in my head is a giant carb monster that reaches its tentacles (made out of loaves of bread, of course) across suburban shopping centers and airport kiosks nationwide. This is how it will eventually take over the world. This should be perfectly obvious to all of us.
JAB Holding Company, which owns Panera, Caribou Coffee, and Einstein Bros., also owns the chains Pret a Manger and Krispy Kreme, as well as Keurig Coffee and other popular brands. The company took Peet’s Coffee public last year and took Krispy Kreme public in the U.S. this year. It’s also been reported that Panera is considering going public as well. Hell, let’s merge everything together into one giant wad of mashed-up cinnamon-sugar-dusted dough and call it a day.