Panera Bread - Corporate History

Corporate History

Panera considers its legacy to have begun in 1981 with the original Au Bon Pain Co., co-founded by current Panera CEO Ron Shaich. In 1993, Au Bon Pain Co. purchased the St. Louis Bread Company, which was founded by Ken Rosenthal. At the same time, the St. Louis Bread Company was renovating its 20 bakery-cafés in the St. Louis area.

In May 1999, to expand Panera Bread into a national restaurant, Au Bon Pain Co. sold its other chains, including Au Bon Pain, which is now owned by Compass Group North America. The company operates or franchises 1,500 Panera Bread bakery-cafés in 40 states and 20 facilities that deliver fresh dough to the bakery-cafés every day. Panera Bread's co-CEOs are William Moreton and Ron Shaich.

In its headquarters city of St. Louis, Panera Bread still operates under the name St. Louis Bread Company. The St. Louis metropolitan area has over 100 locations.

In 2005, Panera ranked 37th on BusinessWeek's list of "Hot Growth Companies", earning $38.6 million with a 42.9% increase in profits.

In 2007, Panera Bread purchased a majority stake in Paradise Bakery & Café, a Phoenix-based concept with over 70 locations in 10 states (predominantly in the west and southwest). The Company purchased the balance of Paradise in June 2009.

In 2008, Panera Bread expanded into Canada, beginning with Richmond Hill, Thornhill, Oakville and Mississauga in the Toronto area.

In a 2008 Health magazine study, Panera Bread was judged North America's healthiest fast casual restaurant.

In 2009, the restaurant review service Zagat named Panera one of the most popular restaurants for eating on the go. Panera was also rated #1 for Best Healthy Option, Best Salad, and Best Facilities, among restaurants with fewer than 5,000 locations.

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