Our Concept Essence

We’re proud to be a truly unique food concept.

We provide our customers with great tasting, healthful food of the highest quality; an atmosphere that is warm, friendly and comfortable; and a forum for celebrating bread like no other food establishment. Our blueprint for attracting and retaining our targeted customers is called our "Concept Essence," and it helps us define what makes us different.

 

Bread is our passion, soul and expertise.

It's the bread that makes us special in the eyes and mouths of our customers. Our bread products and baker expertise are at the heart of our menus, making all our food special. We bake fresh bread every day, using only natural ingredients, and have proudly received national and local awards and recognition for our sourdough.

 

We build trust.

To be successful, we must establish ongoing relationships with our customers and communities. These relationships must be based on trust and emotional value. We build trust primarily through warm, friendly, dynamic and knowledgeable associates who connect with our customers. Our associates’ actions and enthusiasm for what we do must show through in their interactions. We want our customers to have a positive feeling about their experience with us.

 

We are an everyday oasis for our customers.

Our customers tell us their lives have become hectic and stressful, and they want a place to go for a “time out” from their busy days. We want to be the place our customers naturally think of when they want to visit with friends, hold an informal meeting, or simply be alone. We work hard at creating an atmosphere of warmth, trust and fellowship that makes us a natural gathering place.

 

We are a guide to discovering the warmth and energy of a lifestyle enhanced by bread.

Our fresh bread expertise goes home with our customers. We are their guides. We have the expertise to show how bread can be an interesting and important part of their lives.

 

Our Bread Story

During the first part of the 20th century, most Americans were still baking their bread at home or getting it from their neighborhood bakery. With the advance of industry came the highway system and the migration to the suburbs. The neighborhood bakery gave way to packaged bread on supermarket shelves. Amidst all the progress, though, something was lost. The warmth and comfort of fresh-baked bread and the fellowship of the neighborhood bakery faded in significance.

The neighborhood bakery gave way to packaged bread on supermarket shelves. Amidst all the progress, though, something was lost. The warmth and comfort of fresh-baked bread and the fellowship of the neighborhood bakery faded in significance.

It was the recognition of the importance of fresh-baked bread to people's lives that led two dedicated men to cross paths. In 1987, Ken Rosenthal stepped off a plane in his hometown of St. Louis, carrying a cooler with a starter for a tangy, robust sourdough bread recipe from San Francisco. He opened the first Saint Louis Bread Co.® in Kirkwood, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. The handcrafted bread sold in this modern version of a neighborhood bakery-cafe became an instant favorite of St. Louisans and visitors to the city.

As the concept evolved, Saint Louis Bread Co. provided customers not only with great breads, bagels and pastries, but also with made-to-order sandwiches, freshly tossed salads and soups served in sourdough bread bowls. Company-owned fresh dough facilities produced and distributed all the breads and bagels for the bakery-cafes. Hot and cold espresso beverages helped round out the menu, and contributed to the warm, friendly atmosphere that made Saint Louis Bread Co. a growing success.

A few years later, in 1993, Ron Shaich, CEO of Au Bon Pain, and his colleagues discovered Saint Louis Bread Co.'s 20 bakery-cafes and the answer to what they felt was a much larger need. In 1999, Shaich decided to sell the Au Bon Pain bakery-cafe business unit and focus on building the Saint Louis Bread Co. concept into a national brand, under the name Panera Bread® (derived from the Latin word Panera, which means "time of bread"). The name change reflected the vision and focus of the expanding company: the time of bread was dawning in America. In the St. Louis area, the hometown favorite continues to be known as Saint Louis Bread Co.

In 2007, Panera Bread purchased a majority stake in Paradise Bakery & Café®, a Phoenix-based concept with over 70 locations in 10 states (predominantly in the west and southwest). The Company purchased the balance of Paradise in June 2009.

Today Panera Bread enjoys tremendous success, ranking as one of the top growth companies in the food service industry. Along with the original sourdough, Panera Bread offers many other varieties of bread, helping fulfill the company's x of putting "a loaf of bread in every arm." Panera Bread bakes more bread each day than any other bakery-cafe operation in the nation, serving millions of customers each week, and baking tens of millions of loaves of the highest quality bread in the country.

Today Panera Bread enjoys tremendous success, ranking as one of the top growth companies in the food service industry.

As of June 25, 2013, there are 1,708 bakery-cafes in 44 states and in Ontario Canada operating under the Panera Bread®, Saint Louis Bread Co.® and Paradise Bakery & Café® names, delivering fresh, authentic artisan bread served in a warm environment by engaging associates.