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Au Bon Pain reveals brighter and modernized new look

Parent Ampex Brands plans to open its first Café of the Future next year and will remodel existing corporate units.
Au Bon Pain's redesign aims to get people in and out quicker. / Renderings courtesy of Ampex Brands.

Au Bon Pain’s new owner is giving the French bakery brand a new look.

Dallas-based Ampex Brands on Tuesday gave a preview of a new prototype scheduled to open next year in the northeast U.S. — the company can’t reveal exactly where just yet. Ampex Brands, a Yum Brands franchisee and 7-Eleven operator, in 2021 acquired Au Bon Pain from Panera Brands and started growing the brand again.

Beth Collins, Ampex Brands’ global chief marketing officer, said the new Café of the Future design follows a campaign of “bringing it back to bright.”

Au Bon Pain patio

Since most units are in commuter, hospital or university settings, the airy new look is designed to help guests get in and out quickly to get on their way.  

“What we really wanted to focus on in this redesign is how our guests primarily use the brand, and what our point of differentiation is,” said Collins in an interview. “We are a commuter brand. People are catching trains, catching planes, getting to the office. They need to get in and out.”

The streamlined design puts grab-and-go options, refrigerated goods and the coffee bar right up front, for example. Mobile kiosks will allow guests to scan their items and pay to avoid standing in lines.

Sandwich makers are on site for guests who want their meal made fresh to order. An island offers soups to go, and helps manage the flow of guests through the unit, Collins said.

Au Bon Pain interior

Created in partnership with the firm Rubber & Road, the design embraces the brand’s signature yellow. Artwork aims to accentuate the brand’s French bakery roots, with images that spotlight the brand’s bakers, floor tiles that say “bonjour” and a neon sign saying “bon, bon, bon.”

“We want to make sure we own ‘bon,’” said Collins. “We meet you, we greet you, and we set you on your way to do great things.”

The first unit will be about 2,000 square feet, but the design can be applied to formats as small as 900 square feet, said Collins

The first new prototype is a new unit to be developed by an unidentified existing Au Bon Pain franchisee, who also signed a 10-unit development agreement for the northeast region.

Collins said new units will begin incorporating some elements of the new design. And the company’s 43 company locations will begin a paced-out remodel process to bring those units up to the new look.

Operators of the chain’s 76 franchised locations of Au Bon Pain are “chomping at the bit” to get started with the new design, said Collins.

In addition to Au Bon Pain, Ampex Brands recently acquired the Texas-based brand Bellagreen. The operator also has more than 400 franchised Yum Brands locations, and operates 7-Eleven convenience stores.

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