When it comes to seamlessly combining eating well with fast-casual dining, Panera Bread knows how to deliver. The chain famous for serving up to-die-for bread bowls and actually tasty salads also has a number of wholesome factoids hiding up its bakers’ sleeves. Whether spearheading the calorie-count movement, or offering affordable (and healthy) eating options to lower-income areas, here are ten tidbits you need to know about the beloved bakery.
Back in the ’80s, Panera Bread was no more than a humble little Missouri-based bread chain named St. Louis Bread Co.. That is, until the same guys who founded Au Bon Pain in 1981 eventually bought up those shops and transformed them into the trusty Panera we know and love today. The 50+ stores in the St. Louis area will always carry the emblem that started it all-they’re still called St. Louis Bread Co. (or just “Bread Co.” by regulars).
If you’ve ever eaten at these pseudo-bistros, you’ll probably enjoy Panera: Ron Shaich and Louis Kane founded Au Bon Pain Co., Inc. in the ’80s and both Au Bon Pain and St. Louis Bread Co. lived under the umbrella for nearly two decades. It wasn’t until 1999, when Shaich sold off Au Bon Pain to focus on expanding Panera, that the two became separate entities. Panera Bread then bought up Paradise Bakery & Café, which still operates under its original name in several locations.
Well, sort of. The Spanish word literally translates to bread basket or bread box, so it all depends on how you interpret it. But considering the chain is famous for its bread bowls, it seems obvious what the intended meaning is.
Though it has expanded a lot since its early St. Louis days, Panera still isn’t available in a sad few states: If you live in Montana or Wyoming you’ll have to travel elsewhere to get your fill of seasonal salads, Chocolate Chippers and Chicken & Rice Soup. Lucky residents of Washington D.C. and parts of Canada can take advantage, however.
After the chain shed Au Bon Pain in 1999, it completely…