Panera brought four new pantry ingredients to restaurants for the bowls as well: hummus, lemon tahini dressing, long grain brown rice, and salsa verde, which is made in-store every day.
Burnett says it took several months of training, including closing stores for several hours, to train employees on the process. Also, to get them educated on the flavor profiles and engaged with Panera’s bowl direction. Temporarily shuttering locations gave operators “an opportunity to really explain to our associates the story behind the products, the flavors, let them taste it, experience it,” Burnett says. “And so, our training procedures were relatively long. It takes about three months until we can roll this out to all the different communication channels and give everybody not only the knowledge how to execute it, but also how to speak to it as a new product.”
On this idea of “fulfillment,” Wegiel says, it’s really the next phase of Panera’s 100 percent clean movement. Previously, it was centered on what the chain removed from food. Namely, the “no-no list” Panera garnered national headlines for. This campaign is about what remains.
“That wasn’t the fullness of the definition of ‘Food As It Should Be’ or what we meant by clean,” Wegiel says. “It was also about the good things in our food. What is special about grains, plants, and proteins—the real pillars of our pantry and our ingredients. … You’re going to see more and more from us pushing the boundaries of that because we believe there are things we can do but others cannot when it comes to the quality of those ingredients and the standards we’re going to put behind them.”
Grain bowls are as filing as a sandwich from a hearty standpoint and as fulfilling as a salad when it comes to nutritional value and wellness, Wegiel says.