Part of Panera’s new business strategy is delivery, which it hopes will counteract UberEATS and other food delivery services in the area.

Nashville, Charlotte, and other major cities will be some of the first to test this new service that the chain plans to implement all over the country. Panera plans to expand delivery to 35 to 40 percent of its 2,000-plus locations by the end of 2017.  Lunch and dinner menu will be offered for delivery, with a $5 order minimum and $3 service fee. Orders can be placed up to two weeks in advance online or through its mobile app.

The move by Panera is a response to the growing number of food and grocery delivery services that are making it easier than ever for consumers to get products they want without having to leave the home. Foodservice delivery is the ultimate in dining convenience and is winning visits at the expense of restaurant drive thru, reports The NPD Group, a leading global information company. Over the past four years, delivery has grown by more than 69 million visits (orders), while drive thru traffic fell by 128 million visits from May 2012 through May 2016, according to a NPD report on foodservice delivery released in 2016. 

“Restaurant delivery is a hot market right now with many companies vying for the top spots. While usage today is low, it is important to note that the third-party delivery industry is still relatively new and low usage is to be expected, but it presents opportunity for growth,” says Caleb Bryant, foodservice analyst at Mintel.

Bakeries and bakery cafes are looking to get in on this growing trend. With custom convenience becoming more important than ever, it is a smart business move for many in the foodservice industry.