Panera Opens First “Panera To Go” Digital-Only Restaurant for Off-Premise Dining

by Katie Lee

St. Louis — Panera Bread has opened the first “Panera To Go,” a new Panera Bread restaurant format offering digitally-enabled convenience for Rapid Pick-Up® and Delivery orders. The Chicago-based restaurant is the first of three Panera To Go test locations scheduled to open this year. Two additional Panera To Go cafes will open in California and Washington D.C. this year; the company will also evaluate adding in kiosk and catering orders to the new format in the future.

Panera To Go is a digital-only bakery-cafe, with a reduced front of house where guests and delivery drivers can easily pick up orders from Rapid Pick-Up® and Delivery shelves. Designed for densely populated areas that cannot accommodate a dine-in bakery-cafe, the new format allows Panera to meet the demand in these areas for easy off-premise options.

As of the end of 2021, 81% of Panera’s sales were via one of Panera’s off-premise channels including Delivery, Rapid Pick-Up®, Drive-Thru and Catering. The Panera To Go front of house does not offer any seating and is currently testing Delivery and Rapid Pick-Up® on shelves that guests and delivery drivers can easily access. With less front-of-house duties and simplified operations, Panera To Go associates are solely focused on meeting the unique needs of a guest on-the-go.

“We strive to make it easy for our guests to access Panera’s chef-curated menu, in the most convenient way. Panera To Go creates yet another access point for our guests, via Rapid Pick-Up® or Delivery, in locations where Panera has not historically operated,” says Eduardo Luz, chief brand & concept officer, Panera Bread. “We are excited to launch into more trade areas, where we know people are craving for what Panera offers — freshly prepared delicious dishes, crafted by our chefs and bakers, using clean ingredients.”

As of the end of 2021, 44% of Panera bakery-cafes included a drive-thru, and the company has continually innovated to add new access points in response to the growing demand for off-premise dining. Panera launched Rapid Pick-Up® nationally in 2016, giving guests the convenience to order ahead and pick up their order on a convenient shelf in the dining room. In 2020, the company launched Panera Curbside, a geofence-enabled service that allows guests to easily get their meals delivered directly to their car. The new Panera Next-Gen bakery-cafe model rolling out nationwide features a dual drive-thru with a dedicated Rapid Pick-Up® lane among other digitally-powered elements.

Recently, the brand has been actively testing ghost kitchens, with five currently operational nationwide and more planned to open this year. The Panera To Go concept differs from ghost kitchens in that the new format offers a branded front-of-house experience where guests can quickly pick up digital orders on their own. Ordering and payment for Panera To Go orders are only available on Panera’s digital channels via web or on the Panera app.

“Panera To Go is another way we can make our guests’ lives easier through digital convenience, which is always at the heart of what we do,” says George Hanson, chief digital officer, Panera Bread. “We are already leaders in providing our guest with an exceptional digital experience and adapted our digital channels to provide our guest even more options in the Panera To Go format.”

As of March 29, 2022, there were 2,117 bakery-cafes in 48 states and in Ontario, Canada, operating under the Panera Bread® or Saint Louis Bread Co.® names. Panera Bread is part of Panera Brands, one of the largest fast casual restaurant companies in the U.S., comprised of Panera Bread®, Caribou Coffee® and Einstein Bros.® Bagels. For more information, visit




SOURCE: Panera Bread


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