On Thursday, November 18, Panera Bread opened the first bakery-cafe featuring its next-generation restaurant design in Ballwin, Missouri. The chain is redefining its experience, with a modern and revitalized dine-in experience around its signature fireplace coupled with enhanced digital, personalized options, and dual drive-thru access.

“Our new bakery-cafe is designed with the best of what makes Panera unique – a warm, inviting environment that delights our guests, and the smell of freshly baked bread coupled with tech-enabled convenience,” says Eduardo Luz, chief brand & concept officer, Panera Bread. “We’re proud to launch this new design just outside of our hometown of St. Louis; in fact, we couldn’t think of a better place to showcase our vision for the future than the place where we started.”

Panera worked with leading brand design agency ChangeUp to design the next-generation Panera restaurant concept, which features the following main updates:

  • Craft Bakery Experience – Panera is moving the bakery-cafe ovens to be in full view of the guests, so they can fully immerse themselves in the experience of baking happening throughout the day.
  • Dual-drive thru with dedicated Rapid Pick-Up lane – The new concept features a double-lane drive thru, with one lane specifically for the brand’s signature Rapid Pick-Up service.
  • Enhanced Digital Experience – New digital innovations include contactless dine-in and delivery, updated ordering kiosks, automatic loyalty identification and a fully digitized menu both in-cafe and in drive-thru.
  • Contactless Ordering – This new service will allow guests who choose a fully contactless experience to easily order their meal from their own phone for dine-in, Rapid Pick-up, drive-thru or delivery. Once the order is made, guests are notified via mobile notifications when their food is ready, minimalizing interaction with cashiers, kiosks, paper receipts or pagers.
  • Refreshed Brand Identity – A refreshed Panera “Mother Bread” logo is a nod to Panera Bread’s more than 30-year-old sourdough starter from which all of its sourdough bread is still made today.
  • Intuitive Guest Journey – Guest convenience is one of the highest priorities of the new design, from deploying clear and concise wayfinding on the exterior of the cafe to refining how the guest routes through the cafe after entering the front door, to optimizing the ordering and pick-up experience.

“We undertook the development of the next generation Panera bakery-cafe with a relentless focus on guest experience,” says Rob Sopkin, SVP, chief development officer, Panera Bread. “Every step of the guest journey was scrutinized to find ways to make it more intuitive and convenient, and the result represents the very best of our design and development teams that we are proud to open today.”