Companion owner and founder Josh Allen enjoys an inside view of America’s bread business, overseeing operations at one of the leading intermediate wholesale bakeries in the United States. So what trends have staying power, in his view?

“At restaurants, we are seeing less bread baskets and more paid bread service — beautiful loaves of bread served with three or four spreads,” Allen says at his St. Louis bakery. “There is definitely more movement on the sandwich side of things. Whole grain sandwich breads are doing well. More sourdoughs.”

Sandwich breads are taking off in a multitude of directions, giving customers more options and signaling a strong positive for the “fine casual” movement in American dining culture.

“Food is becoming more casual and much more approachable in restaurants,” Allen says, “whether that be a great lobster roll or an Italian panini.”

Whole grains are most certainly gaining ground. In mid-October, Panera Bread announced that it is the first national restaurant company to disclose the whole grain content of breads on its menu. The bakery cafe chain will now label all servings of whole grain per slice, roll or bagel, as well as the whole grain percentage, on all breads over 50% whole grain.

Bakery cafes continue to enjoy steady sales growth, and chains like Corner Bakery are driving sales with new products. In September, Corner Bakery introduced new fall menu items that include Apple Walnut Pancakes and Chicken Apple Arugula Sandwich, available for a limited time. The new chicken sandwich is served on toasted pesto Parmesan focaccia.

“We are excited to introduce our guests to Corner Bakery’s new harvest creations,” says Corner Bakery’s chief marketing officer Donna Josephson. “Our freshly prepared dishes are full of flavor — perfect for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”