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Panera's upscale fast food restaurants are thriving in the downturn. Here's part of its recipe for success.
Offering free WiFi long before Starbucks did, and encouraging community organisations such as book clubs and church groups to meet in its restaurants, has helped Panera earn around $2m a store, against the Seattle coffee giant’s average of about $750,000, according to Mr Shaich. The number of Panera restaurants soared from 160 in 1997 to over 1,400 at the end of 2009, with another 80 or more due to open this year as the firm takes advantage of the weak commercial property market. Mr Shaich was in New York recently, checking out potential sites for Panera’s first Manhattan store. [via The Economist]
The company seems to be so customer-centric - you know, the customer know's best - that it is experimenting with a "pay what you deem fair" restaurant. One side-note: Panera's restaurant owners are silent. Instead, the franchising firm (NYSE:PNRA) is focused on as if the chain was company-owned and solely responsible for the success of the chain.