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Panera eyes new dinnertime lures

The 10 items about to be tested are intended to bolster both on-premise and delivery sales.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Panera Bread is planning to test a selection of nighttime-only selections starting next month in a bid to bolster sales of on-premise and delivered dinners. 

It describes the 10 products as “hearty, wholesome, made from scratch.” In addition to two new toasted sandwiches, the array includes flatbreads, bowls and seasonal sides. The fast casual said it has not previously offered bowls, and its only experimentation with flatbreads was the short-lived addition of a pizza-like product called Crispani in 2006. 

Each of the new items will be offered only after 4:30 p.m.

The prices and intended effect on the average check were not disclosed.

The entree-style items to be tested in Lexington, Ky., starting in July are:

  • Teriyaki Chicken & Broccoli Bowl, encompassing a quinoa and brown rice blend along with steamed broccoli.
  • Pesto Chicken Bowl, featuring the same grain blend and broccoli, with the addition of nut-free pesto and a garlic cream sauce.
  • Steak and Blue Cheese Artisan Flatbread, made with grass-fed beef, carmelized onion and blue, fontina and mozzarella cheese, along with fresh arugula.
  • Chipotle Chicken & Bacon Artisan Flatbread, with pulled chicken, chopped bacon, grape tomatoes and fontina and mozzarella cheeses, garnished with chipotle aoli and fresh cilantro. 
  • Margherita Artisan Flatbread, featuring a fontina and mozzarella blend along with sliced fresh margarita and a tomato-bell pepper sauce. The item is the only one of the bunch that fits the plant-forward trend reshaping a number of menus this summer.
  • Toasted Pastrami Sandwich, with Emmental cheese, creamy mustard sauce and carmelized onions, all on ciabatta. 
  • Toasted Tuscan Grilled Chicken Sandwich, with a citrus-pepper-flavored chicken, provolone, Parmesan, arugula, smoky tomato confit and basil mayo, all on ciabatta.

The sides to be tested are Sweet Potato Mash, topped with pecan pieces and crispy apple chips; Tomato Basil and Cucumber Salad, served with a Greek dressing; and Parmesan Broccoli, flavored with a garlic cream sauce and grated Parmesan.

Consistent with Panera’s pledge to use only “clean” ingredients, each is prepared without artificial preservatives, sweeteners or flavorings. 

The test will expand to Providence, R.I., in September, Panera said. 

The test is the first major initiative undertaken by Panera since Niren Chaudhary succeeded Blaine Hurst as CEO. 

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