Panera Bread Co. will step outside of its largely suburban, traditional fast-casual comfort zone this year with an expansion of table service, drive-thrus and urban locations.
Instead of pick-up counters, some 214 Panera stores now feature food delivered to guests' tables. In addition, Panera executives said recently that 119 units already include drive-thrus and that roughly 50 of the 120 new units slated to open this year will include it. Another 25 existing units will be converted to drive-thru stores.
The company also plans to take advantage of urban real estate as reasonable opportunities arise. Panera's 1,500th location opened earlier this year in Manhattan, and the chain plans to open two additional units there this spring. CEO and president William Moreton noted, "Our entry into Manhattan is building upon the success that we've had with our urban openings in Washington, D.C., Boston and Chicago."