Panera Bread kiosk ordering

Panera Bread

Commerce


When I think of restaurant chain Panera, I think bread bowls, sandwiches and feeling disgustingly full (my fault, not theirs). I don’t think about technology.

But that may change! The fast casual restaurant chain, which has more than 1,800 locations nationwide, is making drastic changes to its in-restaurant experience, featuring technology enhancements to cut down on wait times and errors on orders, it announced today.

Among the updates in what the company is calling Panera 2.0: Being able to order and pay through your phone while sitting at a table; ordering from a kiosk when the regular lines are long; and ordering in advance, by as much as five days, and picking up at a specific time from a shelf designed to hold pick-up orders.

Some of these changes have rolled out to a handful of locations, but the full transformation will have hit somewhere between 750 and 1000 locations by the end of 2015, according to Blaine Hurst, Panera’s tech boss.

Gone also will be the three-quarter walls from which diners currently pick up their food; Panera employees will deliver all orders to the dining tables.

In an interview, I expressed some skepticism that there would actually be demand among Panera’s clientele for ordering through the chain’s app while sitting at a table. But Hurst explained that in Panera’s busier locations, finding a table can often be an issue during peak hours — something I’ve recently observed myself.

“It’s not for every customer,” he said. But, he added, “a lot of consumers do go find a table, drop their books or computers, or sit down and hopefully someone who’s with them can go get in line.”




4 comments
Eideard
Eideard

The food - especially bread - is disappointing for folks like me who remember predecessors gobbled up in M&A. Au Bon Pain was much higher quality.

As for Android users, well, cheap is what you wanted, what you got.

Jason CC
Jason CC

Just log on thru the android browser. Sure beats buying an iphone for onion soup orders.

DaveStLou
DaveStLou

You have to like bread bowls and one particular type of tech, namely iPhones. Unfortunately Panera has chosen not to release their app on the Android platform so most smartphone owners will not be able to take advantageous of this service.

Jason CC
Jason CC

The thought of buying an iphone merely to order food is somewhat not appetizing.

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