Panera Bread has named former Sweetgreen President Karen Kelley chief restaurant officer and hired Sonic Drive-In veteran Anita Vanderveer as the cafe chain’s new chief people officer.
Both women will also hold the title of SVP and report directly to Panera CEO Blaine Hurst.
Kelley was most recently president of Tatte Bakery & Cafe, an 11-unit Boston-area operation that drew a controlling investment from Panera in 2016. She was head of the bakery-cafe operation for seven months, exiting last August.
Before her time with Tatte, the graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder was president and COO of Sweetgreen, the influential fast-casual salad chain. She held those posts from November 2013 through January 2018, according to Kelley’s LinkedIn page. The listing also indicates that Kelley spent time with Pinkberry and Jamba Juice.
Vanderveer was previously SVP of people for Sonic, where she worked for seven years. She left the quick-service drive-in chain when it was acquired by Arby’s and Buffalo Wild Wings parent Inspire Brands. Earlier, she spent 15 years with Pizza Hut, a holding of Yum Brands.
“Their experience and leadership in the restaurant industry is truly unparalleled,” Hurst said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to working alongside them to strengthen and grow both the guest experience and the associate experience.”
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