ST. LOUIS — Panera Brands continues to remake what the traditional bakery-cafe looks like, this time with the debut of an updated Panera Bread urban store format in New York.
Designed to cater to the needs of increasingly digital and off-premises guests, the new store format features a 40% smaller footprint than traditional bakery-cafes. The new format includes updated ordering kiosks, a fully digitized menu and a new tracking screen that provides more detailed order status, Panera said. In addition, the new bakery-cafes have only limited counter seating, with the bulk of the space inside dedicated to the company’s Rapid Pick-Up experience, which includes shelves for pick-up and to-go orders.
The new bakery-cafe format also is Panera’s first to fully incorporate the company’s “brand world,” featuring modern and inviting art and updated design touches and color palette.
The opening comes a month before Panera is set to debut its first New York Panera To Go. Panera To Go has no dine-in seating, solely offering Rapid Pick-Up and delivery shelves where guests and delivery drivers can easily pick up orders. Panera to Go also has fewer front-of-house duties and simplified operations, which the company said allows its associates to focus on crafting freshly prepared meals to meet the needs of a guest on-the-go. Panera opened its first Panera To Go restaurant in June in Chicago. At that time, the company said it planned to open two more Panera To Go restaurants, one in California and one in Washington, DC, later this year.
The two New York bakery-cafes are the first of several new Panera bakery-cafes planned for expansion in urban markets in the next year, along with a series of non-traditional locations in settings like hospitals and universities.
“At Panera, our innovation has always been rooted in the guest and associate experience, how we can reduce friction, drive convenience and bring Panera to new places where we know the demand is high for the freshly-prepared food we serve,” said Eduardo Luz, chief brand and concept officer, Panera Bread. “With a flexible portfolio of cafe designs, we’re now able to bring Panera anywhere, from suburban cafes with double drive-thrus, to a digital-only Panera To Go and everything in between.”
Panera said the new store formats come as digital sales continue to climb. The company said more than 3 million average transactions each week come from digital channels, including the app, kiosk and web, and digital sales now represent 50% of total system sales.