Panera franchisee tests beer and wine

Beer, wine and hard seltzer will be trialed at five locations during dinner hours, tied to the chain’s rollout of flatbreads.
Panera Bread Co.
Photograph: Shutterstock

One of the country’s largest Panera Bread franchisees is testing the addition of beer and wine at two restaurants in the Kansas City, Kan., area, the operator announced this week.

The pilot program from franchisee Pan American Group, called Panera Tonight: Beer, Wine & Dine, coincides with the fast-casual chain’s introduction of flatbreads, a shareable menu item designed with dinner in mind. The operator plans to add three more restaurants to the pilot program in the coming weeks.

The Panera restaurants involved in the test will serve beer and hard seltzer from Kansas City-based Boulevard Brewing Co. and wines from Napa Valley’s Menage a Trois wines.

Beverages prices range from $4 to $6.

“Panera offers delicious food all day long,” Pan American Group Marketing Manager Rebecca Diefendorf said. “Now, you can start your morning with coffee and a bagel and end the day with wine and a flatbread pizza.”

Panera launched flatbreads late last month. The new menu category currently features three flavors: Cheese, Margherita and Chipotle Chicken & Bacon. The chain said it hopes customers gravitate toward the flatbreads for dinner and as an add-on to other orders.

Pan American Group is part of Flynn Restaurant Group. The operator runs 135 Panera restaurants in 33 states, as well as hundreds of Applebee’s, Arby’s and Taco Bell locations.

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