Friday, November 20, 2020

Panera Franchisees Can Make a Difference


Franchise developers at Panera Bread typically own at minimum 15 units. Regular readers of this blog know that in most cases franchisees are closer to the consumer and pulse of ‘what customers want’. In the case of Panera bread developer, The Flynn Restaurant Group subsidiary Pan American Group is testing alcohol sales as part of the Panera Tonight program in five Kansas City locations.

Listening to consumers and giving them what they want is important according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®. When asked if they wanted to cook dinner from scratch or assemble dinner from fresh meal components 91.1 % of Gen Z chose assemble from Fresh Prepared Meal Components and Millennials 83.6 chose meal components. Johnson noted that both wine and beer are meal components deemed an important to complete a meal by 69.7% or respondents.

The alcohol test is part of the introduction of the Panera Tonight: Beer, Wine & Dine program that premiered exclusively at the five Pan American franchised stores on Oct. 28, which coincided with the nationwide launch of Panera’s new flatbread pizzas. Ok, we all know that beer and pizza is like a one to punch for online ordering.

Since this is the first time that any Panera Bread café is serving alcohol. Pan American Group is partnering with Boulevard Brewing Co. and Napa Valley’s Ménage à Trois Wines. The program will start out at two cafes in Overland Park, Kan., and will expand to three other Kansas City cafes. Customers at these locations will be able to try out and pair a variety of wines, beers and hard seltzers from 4 p.m. until closing, including Boulevard’s pale ale, unfiltered wheat beer, and Quirk Spiked and sparkling strawberry lemon and basil seltzer, along with Ménage à Trois’ red blend, gold Chardonnay and Limelight pinot grigio.

Randy Bates, senior director, head of marketing at Flynn Restaurant Group told NRN, “We are targeting our dinner and evening guests that are looking to pair a beer or wine with our great products like our new flatbread pizzas,”. “Given the environment over the last 6 months we’ve been challenged to think differently about our business.  This is one of the areas we believe is a growth opportunity for our brand.  We always like to give our guests choices.”

While the alcohol menu is only available for dine-in customers, though Bates said that they “will continue to evolve to meet the demands and requests of our guests.” He also said that depending on the success of the pilot program, that they could add to their alcohol offerings or expand the program to other stores. Johnson noted the benefits of increasing ticket size for delivery while meeting the unmet demand for convenience by consumers is obvious.

Natalie Gershon, vice president of marketing for Boulevard stated, “Like mine, families on-the-go are always looking for dinner options that are delicious, healthy and please the entire family,”…  “We are honored to team up with Panera for this pilot and offer fans Boulevard beer and seltzer in our backyard.”

“It’s honestly up to our customers,” Bates said. “If they show us that they want a beer with their flatbread or a glass of wine with their salad, I think it likely that others will jump on board.” If you want beer and wine from your Panera start asking every time you visit, call, or order Online according to Johnson.

Panera Flatbread pizzas are available in cheese, margherita, or chipotle chicken & bacon.  They start at $7.59, while beer and wine prices range from $4-$6 at the participating Kansas City area Panera restaurants.

Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food marketing ideations look more like yesterday than tomorrow? Interested in learning how our Grocerant Guru® can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization?  Email us at: or visit: us on our social media sites by clicking one of the following links: Facebook,  LinkedIn, or Twitter

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