Panera Bread is one of the most popular cafes and bakeries in the United States. However, despite the fact that the chain has spent a considerable amount of time in the spotlight and under the scrutiny of the public eye, there are still some things that many people don’t know. With that in mind, here PPcorn presents a list of 15 facts you probably didn’t know about Panera Bread.
Number Fifteen: It Wasn’t Always Panera Bread
In fact, Panera’s founders started Au Bon Pain before beginning Panera. The founders subsequently bought Saint Louis Bread Company with the intention of expanding it under the Panera name; however, they eventually sold ABP to focus solely on Panera because it was growing so quickly.
Number Fourteen: Some Locations Go by Other Names
Because Panera was originally the Saint Louis Bread Company, some of its locations in St. Louis are still called Saint Louis Bread Company. Who knew?
Number Thirteen: It Owns Paradise Bakery
You may have eaten in a Panera without ever realizing it! The company also owns Paradise Bakery, which has an almost identical menu.
Number Twelve: The Food Development Staff Travels to Taste New Food Every Year
Twice a year, Panera’s food development team goes to the Adirondacks to try new dishes. In fact, all staff meetings at Panera begin with a literal breaking of bread.
Number Eleven: At the Peak of Its Expansion, a New Store Was Opening Every Five Days
It’s true! Panera was growing so rapidly at one point that a new location opened in the United States every five days – that’s an expansion rate of 31.5 percent.
Number Ten: Fresh Bread Is Delivered to Every Location Every Single Day
It might sound excessive, but it’s true. Because the company truly loves bread and appreciates the quality so much, it has fresh bread delivered to every single location every single morning.
Number Nine: It Goes Through 140 Million Pounds of Flour Every Year
Panera Bread sells an impressive 150 million loaves of bread every year. On top of the 240 million bagels it annually sells, that means it requires 140 million pounds of flour to support its sales.
Number Eight: Panera Bread Never Uses Antibiotics
In fact, when choosing the kind of chicken to use in the stores, the food team went through 30 different varieties of chicken before finally settling on one that didn’t have antibiotics in it. All of its ingredients are sourced to be free of antibiotics.
Number Seven: It Was the First Chain to Display Calorie Information
It’s true! Panera Bread was the very first chain in America to post calorie information about all of its products. It did so in 2010.
Number Six: At One Point, it Was America’s Largest Free Wi-Fi Provider
After the chain allowed its customers to use Wi-Fi for free, sales increased by an impressive 15 percent. In 2012, more than two million people were using the free Wi-Fi every single month.
Number Five: It Gives a Lot of Its Products Away
At the end of the day, something has to be done with the bread and bagels leftover. Rather than using old products the following day like some chains do, Panera gives them away to people who need it most.
Number Four: Some Locations Don’t Have Prices
The company launched a concept in 2010 called the Panera Cares Community Cafes. Cafes that have this name operate on a pay-what-you-can system. None of the items have prices; instead, they are listed with suggested donations and people only have to pay what they are able to afford.
Number Three: Some Stores Allow Customers to Earn Food Through Volunteering
As part of the Panera Cares program mentioned above, customers can volunteer for an hour a week to earn a voucher for a free meal if they can’t afford to pay for it. Truly impressive.
Number Two: They Didn’t Lose Business as a Result of the Atkins Diet
Some people might assume that the chain suffered when the Atkins diet, which emphasizes eating as few carbs as possible, was at the height of its popularity. However, the chain stuck to its guns of selling the best bread possible and business continued to boom.
Number One: It’s Not in Every State
You might assume that the chain is everywhere considering how many locations there are. However, there are four states that don’t have one! Those states are Utah, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. We hope you enjoyed our list of 15 things you didn’t know about Panera Bread!