Panera 2.0 Upgrades Include Enclosed, Upgraded Kitchens, Smaller Stores

It’s a new look and long-term strategy for St. Louis-based Panera Bread Co. Chain execs convened last week in Charlotte, N.C., a 10-unit test market for the chain’s new bakery-café format, to formally unveil “Panera 2.0,” which includes an emphasis on kiosk and mobile ordering, operational modifications and plans for smaller restaurants. The new format, also tested in four Boston-area units, includes a two-pronged effort that for some locations means the addition of rapid-pickup mobile and online ordering and an in-store kiosk ordering system for others.

The labor saved by customers placing orders digitally is being redeployed to beef up the workforce in the back of the house. The new Panera 2.0 locations have walled-off kitchens rather than open counters, allowing vertical expansion space for kitchens’ increased volumes.

Panera will spend about $42 million on technology alone, sharing the expense with the franchisees who operate about half of the chain’s 1,777 units.

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