Au Bon Pain - History


In 1984, the first Au Bon Pain cafe outside of Boston opened in New York City. In 1991, the company went public as Au Bon Pain Co. Inc. In 1999, Au Bon Pain Co. Inc. sold its Au Bon Pain division to Bruckmann, Rosser, Sherrill & Co., which then sold it to Compass Group in 2000. Louis Kane was not a founder, since the Au Bon Pain in Fanueil Hall existed before he and Arthur Blasburg were involved in acquiring the interest of Pavaillier Machinery (manufacturers of the French equipment).

According to, in 2005, Au Bon Pain management purchased 75 percent of the company, while the Compass Group retained the remaining 25 percent. The current President and CEO of Au Bon Pain is Sue Morelli.

As of 2008, there were 230 cafes in the United States and abroad with many of them featured in Walmart and Macy's Department Stores. Most of the stores in the northeast United States are company-owned, while international locations, such as the locations featured in Macy's and Walmart, are typically franchised. Boston; New York City; Pittsburgh; Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; Detroit; and Chicago are all home to numerous Au Bon Pain locations. Many Au Bon Pain stores have been established in transportation facilities such as airports and train stations, as well as shopping centers, hospitals, and business districts in cities. Au Bon Pain has three locations in New York City's Port Authority Bus Terminal. The chain is also very successful on college campuses: the University of Pennsylvania has one location on its campus as does Duke University, and Virginia Tech has three. One of those three Virginia Tech locations, the one in the Graduate Life Center section of campus, was the site of the 2009 murder of Xin Yang. Au Bon Pain opened two new cafeterias in 2012 at the University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, New York. A new location opened in the Hesburgh Library on the University of Notre Dame campus in November 2012.

There are also locations in Thailand and South Korea.

The chain focuses on serving coffee drinks, baked goods (with a focus on croissants and bagels), and lunch items such as soup, salads, and sandwiches. In recent years, the chain has undergone a brand identity upgrade that has incorporated colors, design, and imagery from traditional French motifs. In 2004, Au Bon Pain hired Chef Thomas John, executive chef from Boston's Mantra restaurant, which was named one of Esquire's best restaurants of 2001 and Condé Nast Traveler's top restaurants of 2003. John was named one of "America's Best New Chefs" in 2002 by Food & Wine magazine. As a continuation of the new strategy, many cafes are being built or renovated into "Marketplace" stores, in which the product is made available in a self-serve fashion to customers.

In addition to retail cafes, Au Bon Pain also runs a catering division.

The chain was recognized in 2003 for its use of touchscreen terminals offering nutritional information to patrons.

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