Panera Bread Opens First Next-Generation Bakery-Cafe in Ballwin, MO

Panera’s new next-generation bakery-cafe doubles down on drive-thru while enhancing dine-in warmth and digital guest experience

Panera's new restaurant design features a modern and revitalized dine-in experience around its signature fireplace coupled with enhanced digital, personalized options, and dual drive-thru access. (Photo: Business Wire)

ST. LOUIS--()--Panera, a leader and innovator in the fast-casual restaurant segment, today opened the first bakery-cafe featuring its next-generation restaurant design in Ballwin, MO. As the brand that introduced fast casual to the industry, Panera is redefining its experience to serve today’s guest in an increasingly off-premise world. The new restaurant design features a modern and revitalized dine-in experience around its signature fireplace coupled with enhanced digital, personalized options, and dual drive-thru access.

“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 & Concept Officer, Panera Bread. “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.”

The Panera next-generation bakery-café features the following main updates:

  • Craft Bakery Experience – Each night and day, bakers in every Panera bake bread and bakery items fresh. Now, Panera is moving the bakery-cafe ovens to be in full view of the guests, so they can fully immerse themselves in the experience of baking happening throughout the day.
  • Dual-drive thru with dedicated Rapid Pick-Up® lane – The new concept features a double-lane drive thru, with one lane specifically for the brand’s signature Rapid Pick-Up service.
  • Enhanced Digital Experience – Already a leader in the digital guest experience, the new Panera concept will feature new digital innovations including contactless dine-in and delivery, updated ordering kiosks, automatic loyalty identification, and a fully digitized menu both in-cafe and in drive-thru.
  • Contactless Ordering – This new service will allow guests who choose a fully contactless experience to easily order their meal from their own phone for dine-in, Rapid Pick-up, drive-thru or delivery. Once the order is made, guests are notified via mobile notifications when their food is ready, minimalizing interaction with cashiers, kiosks, paper receipts or pagers.
  • Refreshed Brand Identity – The next generation bakery 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.
  • Intuitive Guest Journey – Guest convenience is one of the highest priorities of the new design, from deploying clear and concise wayfinding on the exterior of the cafe to refining how the guest routes through the cafe after entering the front door, to optimizing the ordering and pick-up experience.

“We undertook the development of the next generation Panera bakery-cafe with a relentless focus on guest experience,” said Rob Sopkin, SVP, Chief Development Officer, Panera Bread. “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.”

Panera worked with leading brand design agency ChangeUp to design the next-generation Panera restaurant concept. For more information or to place an order, download the Panera app or visit

About Panera Bread

Thirty years ago, at a time when quick service meant low quality, Panera set out to challenge this expectation. We believed that food that was good and that you could feel good about, served in a warm and welcoming environment by people who cared, could bring out the best in all of us. To us, that is food as it should be and that is why we exist.

So, we began with a simple commitment: to bake bread fresh every day in our bakery-cafes. No short cuts, just bakers with simple ingredients and hot ovens. Each night, any unsold bread and baked goods were shared with neighbors in need.

These traditions carry on today, as we have continued to find ways to be an ally for wellness to our guests. That means crafting a menu of soups, salads and sandwiches that we are proud to feed our families. Like poultry and pork raised without antibiotics on our salads and sandwiches. A commitment to transparency and options that empower our guests to eat the way they want. Seasonal flavors and whole grains. And a commitment to removing or not using artificial additives (preservatives, sweeteners, flavors, and colors from artificial sources on our No No list) in the food in our U.S. bakery-cafes. Why? Because we think that simpler is better and we believe in serving food as it should be. Because when you don’t have to compromise to eat well, all that is left is the joy of eating.

We’re also focused on improving quality and convenience. With investments in technology and operations, we now offer new ways to enjoy your Panera favorites – like mobile ordering and Rapid Pick-Up® for to-go orders and delivery – all designed to make things easier for our guests.

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.® names. Panera Bread is part of Panera Brands, one of the world’s largest fast casual restaurant companies, comprised of Panera Bread®, Caribou Coffee® and Einstein Bros.® Bagels. For more information, visit or find us on Twitter (@panerabread), Facebook ( or Instagram (@panerabread).


Edward Ruddy

Release Summary

Panera, a leader in the fast-casual restaurant segment, opens the first bakery-cafe featuring its next-generation restaurant design in Ballwin, MO.


Edward Ruddy