Flynn Restaurant Group LP (FRG), the largest restaurant franchise group in the US, announced that it has purchased 47 Panera Bakery Cafes in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento area and Washington State.

FRG purchased 45 of the bakery cafes from Panera, LLC, in its second refranchising transaction this year. In a separate but simultaneous transaction, FRG purchased two bakery cafes from franchisee Golden Gate Bread, LLC. The Panera, LLC portfolio incudes an additional six bakery cafes in development that are expected to open in 2016, bringing FRG's total to 53 units.

As the dominant brand in the fast casual segment, Panera is a perfect complement to FRG's existing best-in-class concepts, including Applebee's in the casual dining segment and Taco Bell in the quick service segment.

"We have been looking for some time to plant a flag in the fast casual segment," said Mr. Flynn, "and as the segment leader, Panera was a natural choice. Panera's focus on healthy food and accommodating every dining occasion, supported by their commitment to making maximum use of technology, makes it a perfect fit with the direction the US is headed today. Add to that Panera's tremendous brand strength, leadership team and franchise community, and I am confident we couldn't have landed in a better place. We are excited to join the Panera franchise community and look forward to growing within it."

FRG is the first new franchisee admitted into the Panera system in almost 10 years.

"I have known Greg for many, many years and have the deepest professional and personal respect for Greg and his organization.  We're extremely pleased to welcome Greg and the Flynn Restaurant Group to the Panera family. Unquestionably, together we can make an even bigger difference in the lives of people by serving good food in warm, uplifting environments, creating a rewarding workplace, and contributing to local communities, one bakery-cafe at a time," said Panera Bread founder and CEO Ron Shaich.