Panera wants to keep customers around for dinner

Illustration for article titled Panera wants to keep customers around for dinner
Photo: Scott Olson (Getty Images)

When you think “Panera Bread,” a few things come immediately to mind: Soups, either served in a bread cavern or not. The pungent bagel smell that greets you upon passing through the door. Small local organizations having their monthly meetings in a random corner of the establishment. Free WiFi. What you might not immediately think of, however, is dinner. And apparently, Panera’s hoping to change that.

Advertisement

A Nation’s Restaurant News article outlines the deli-and-bagel chain’s plans for all-day expansion, in an effort to keep locations bustling after the coffee-and-WiFi crowd thins out by the afternoon. While most locations are currently open in the evening, the chain plans to test a slew of new items in single locations, beginning in July: “The menu will consist of hot sandwiches along with three new product categories for Panera: flatbreads, bowls and seasonal sides.” In talking about Panera breaking into a new day-part (the time of day on which an establishment focuses its efforts), NRN notes that “bakery-café is a loosely defined segment with competition from all sides. Coffee shops compete for the breakfast daypart. Fast-casual chains compete for lunch. Looking to a new daypart makes sense, but it can be tricky.”

Panera is discovering what many chains have learned: Try to take over all hours of the dining day. It manifests differently in other restaurant types, but these all-day changes are becoming increasingly visible, whether in IHOP pushing its burger offerings, Starbucks turning itself into a rival bakery-café in recent years, or McDonald’s making its breakfast menu available 24 hours a day. Taco Bell will fix you a breakfast burrito, and Chipotle gunning for late-night customers. Dunkin’s branding itself away from donuts. Jamba renouncing the juice. When every restaurant is hell-bent on making sure that the business never leaves, the priority is now to make sure that there’s a reason to stay.

Advertisement

Panera will test its 10 new items in Lexington, Kentucky next month, and in Providence, Rhode Island in September.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

jvbftw
Jim is one of KFCs secret ingredients

Is there a blander, less interesting chain than Panera?