Consumer Trends

Panera, Cinnabon, Applebee’s aim for new delivery occasions

Photograph courtesy of Cinnabon

With delivery quickly becoming a routine option, several well-known restaurant chains are jockeying for additional off-premise occasions with specialized versions of the service. Here are three of those stabs at differentiation announced this week.

Panera Bread adds small-order breakfast delivery

Panera Bread is expanding the hours of its small-order delivery service to include breakfast, a move certain to stoke a.m. competition with the likes of McDonald’s, Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts. The rollout is beginning with the addition of breakfast delivery at 381 cafes in 231 markets, including Chicago, Dallas, Minneapolis, St. Louis and Nashville. The service will be rolled into 30 more stores by year’s end, the chain said. 

The minimum order is $5, and customers will be charged a delivery fee that apparently varies by location. The hours that the service will be offered vary from location to location. The rule of thumb is that delivery will be available within an eight-minute drive of a cafe in the participating markets. Orders will be fielded from Panera’s app and website. 

The cafe chain and early adopter of delivery already offers to bring customers a morning meal, but only for catering-sized orders, and ones placed at least a day in advance. The expansion of small-order delivery allows the concept to leverage its distinction of using employees rather than third-party services to bring meals to consumers’ homes and offices in most markets. About 20,000 people have reportedly been hired by Panera to provide self-delivery, a form of the service offered by few other chains. 

“Since we launched Panera delivery, guests have been asking, ‘What about breakfast?’ We’re all looking for an easier way to get a better breakfast as we start our day,” Blaine Hurst, Panera’s CEO, said in a statement. “Panera is uniquely suited to meet this need.”

Competitors such as McDonald’s and Starbucks offer the delivery of breakfast, but through third parties. 

Cinnabon adds “gifting” delivery

Cinnabon, a cinnamon roll specialist located primarily in shopping malls and transportation centers, is adding delivery service in an uncommon form. Starting today, customers can order large packs of the chain’s gooey signatures for free delivery the next day to whatever address is specified. The chain is betting the service will be used by consumers as a way of giving a relative or acquaintance a gift for the holidays. 

The orders are packed in what the chain describes as gift boxes. Three options or “CinnaPacks” are offered: 16 portions of BonBites for $39.99; six Classic Cinnabon Rolls, $42.99; and 15 MiniBon Cinnamon Rolls, $49.99.

The chain did not reveal how the gift packs will be transported to recipients' homes or offices.

Select Applebee’s units offer catering delivery, "Monday Night Football" deals

Buried in the small print about Applebee’s new catering serviceis an indication that customers placing large orders can call the source store and see about having the food and beverages delivered. Chain headquarters is apparently leaving the option of delivery and such details as what constitutes a large order to individual restaurants within the all-franchised chain. 

The offer is the latest example of a restaurant chain expanding delivery service to cover catering orders. Taco Bell, for instance, is offering delivery of its new 12-taco Party Packs, recently introduced for the holiday party season, through third-party services. 

Applebee’s delivery of some catering orders follows the adoption by about 500 units of a special deal on Mondays. Football fans can have orders exceeding $30 delivered for free via DoorDash through the end of the NFL season. The offer is intended to entice patrons who intend to watch “Monday Night Football,” the high-profile game aired weekly on ESPN.  


Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content


Restaurants have a hot opportunity to improve their reputation as employers

Reality Check: New mandates for protecting workers from dangerous on-the-job heat are about to be dropped on restaurants and other employers. The industry could greatly help its labor plight by acting first.


Some McDonald's customers are doubling up on the discounts

The Bottom Line: In some markets, customers can get the fast-food chain's $5 value meal for $4. The situation illustrates a key rule in the restaurant business: Customers are savvy and will find loopholes.


Ignore the Red Lobster problem. Sale-leasebacks are not all that bad

The decade-old sale-leaseback at the seafood chain has raised questions about the practice. But experts say it remains a legitimate financing option for operators when done correctly.


More from our partners