An Inside Look at Panera's NextGen Bakery-Cafe

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Mark Steele
Panera's NextGen restaurant.

Panera's “Next-Generation” bakery-cafe design debuted in November in Ballwin, Missouri, less than 10 miles away from its first cafe. The upgraded restaurant implements a greater focus on off-premises convenience alongside an elevated dine-in model.

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Mark Steele
Front facade of Panera's NextGen restaurant.

In an effort to accentuate convenience, Panera added clear wayfinding on the exterior to refine how guests route through the café after entering the front door.

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Panera drive-thru.

The store boasts a dual drive-thru with a dedicated Rapid Pick-Up lane.

“Our new bakery-cafe is designed with the best of what makes Panera unique – a warm, inviting environment that delights our guests, and the smell of freshly baked bread coupled with tech-enabled convenience,” said Eduardo Luz, chief brand and concept officer, in a statement. “We’re proud to launch this new design just outside of our hometown of St. Louis; in fact, we couldn’t think of a better place to showcase our vision for the future than the place where we started.”

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Mark Steele
Panera signage

The next-gen model, created with design agency ChangeUp, includes an updated Panera Bread “Mother Bread” logo to refresh the store’s brand identity. It highlights Panera’s more than 30-year-old sourdough starter that its bread is still made from today.

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Mark Steele
Panera dining room.

Guests using contactless ordering will order meals from their mobile devices, for either dine-in rapid pick-up, drive-thru, or delivery.

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Mark Steele
Panera kiosks.

The dining features three digital ordering kiosks. 

“We undertook the development of the next generation Panera bakery-cafe with a relentless focus on guest experience,” said Rob Sopkin, SVP, Panera’s chief development officer, in a statement. “Every step of the guest journey was scrutinized to find ways to make it more intuitive and convenient, and the result represents the very best of our design and development teams that we are proud to open today.” 

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Mark Steele
Panera bakery.

Bakery-cafe ovens are now in full view of guests, so they witness the baking action up close all day.