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Panera Bread opens smaller format ‘urban’ store in New York

The US food-to-go and coffee chain says its new urban café design caters to increasing consumer demand for digital transactions and convenience

Digital sales now represent 50% of Panera Bread's total system sales | Photo credit: Panera Bread


Panera Bread has launched its first ‘urban’ format store in New York in response to an increasingly digital and off-premise customer-base. 

The urban bakery-café format has a 40% smaller footprint than traditional Panera stores and features updated ordering kiosks and a fully digitised menu. It also has dedicated shelves for pick-up and to-go orders. 

The food-to-go and coffee chain said the store is the latest of several new formats targeted at more densely populated and non-traditional trade areas.  

Panera Bread began trialing artificial intelligence (AI) technology in select New York drive-thru stores in August 2022 to enhance customer experience and deliver greater efficiency. 

Meanwhile, the first New York-based Panera To Go, featuring no in-store seating, is set to launch in December 2022 following a successful test earlier this year. 

Panera Bread, which currently operates nearly 2,200 stores across the US and Canada, said that digital sales now represent 50% of total system sales.  

As a result of the increased convenience of its new store formats, Panera said more than three million average transactions each week are made digitally via its Panera app, kiosk and web platforms. 

“At Panera, our innovation has always been rooted in the guest and associate experience, how we can reduce friction, drive convenience and bring Panera to new places where we know the demand is high for the freshly-prepared food we serve. With a flexible portfolio of café designs, we’re now able to bring Panera anywhere, from suburban cafés with double drive-thrus, to a digital-only Panera To Go and everything in between,” said Eduardo Luz, Chief Brand & Concept Officer, Panera Bread. 

World Coffee Portal research indicates that pre-ordering and delivery are the leading trends US consumers are keen for coffee shops to offer or improve in the next 12 months. 

Project Café USA 2023 found that 47% of consumers surveyed had pre-ordered a beverage to collect and 29% had ordered for delivery. Additionally, a third of customers surveyed are in favour of an in-store coffee subscription rather than paying per beverage. 

Panera Bread is part of Panera Brands, a fast casual restaurant group formed in August 2021 with Caribou Coffee and Einstein Bros. Bagels. Collectively the three brands comprise approximately 4,000 stores.  

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