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02/01/2022

Panera launches mobile order-ahead — for dining-in

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Panera is launching contactless dine-in, a new feature in its app that allows customers to order on their own devices for plated dine-in service. (Photo: Business Wire)

Panera Bread is now enabling customers to order via their own devices for plated dine-in service.

Now available in most Panera bakery-cafes, the contactless dine-in service is designed to helps customers avoid lines or shared devices like kiosks or pagers. Contactless dine-in follows the launch other omnichannel ordering options, such as curbside, drive-thru, rapid pick-up, and delivery.

MyPanera rewards program members and customers who have push notifications enabled on the Panera mobile app will be alerted of this new service as soon as they step into the store. Upon opening the app, customers can select the dine-in option to place a contactless dine-in order and the cafe will receive the order.

Once ready, the customer receives an email and, if opted in, can also choose to receive a text and/or push notification, and the food is served plated at the Panera pick-up counter. This just-in-time order ready notification is designed to allow customers to quickly get their meal, avoiding waiting at the counter.

Panera began offering contactless dine-in in November 2021 at its first location featuring a new next-gen restaurant design, in Ballwin, Mo., just outside of its St. Louis hometown. The restaurant features an updated dine-in experience centered around Panera’s signature fireplace along with enhanced digital, personalized options, dual drive-thru access and a new brand identity.

[Read more: First Look: Panera Bread unveils next-gen restaurant]

The new concept features a double-lane drive thru, with one lane specifically for the brand’s rapid pickup service. Digital innovations include contactless dine-in and delivery, updated ordering kiosks, automatic loyalty identification, and a fully digitized menu both in-cafe and in drive-thru. 

The design also introduces an updated Panera Bread logo and brand identity. The refreshed Panera “Mother Bread” logo is a nod to Panera Bread’s more than 30-year-old sourdough starter from which all of its sourdough bread is still made today.

Customer convenience is a high priority of the new design, from deploying clear and concise wayfinding on the exterior of the cafe to refining how the customer navigates throughout the interior to optimizing the ordering and pick-up experience.

“Panera is constantly innovating our technology to respond to the ever-shifting needs of our guests, and contactless dine-in is a great example; in fact, we sped up the national rollout to provide a solution for today’s guest concerns,” said George Hanson, senior VP, chief digital officer, Panera Bread. “Now, guests can avoid lines or shared devices and simply order from a quiet corner of the bakery-cafe. With options like curbside, rapid pick-up, drive-thru, and now contactless dine-in, our guests can order in a way that best suits their needs.”

As of Sept. 28, 2021, there were 2,120 bakery-cafes in 48 states, Washington, DC, and Ontario, Canada, operating under the Panera Bread or Saint Louis Bread Co. banners. Panera Bread is part of Panera Brands, comprised of Panera Bread, Caribou Coffee and Einstein Bros. Bagels.