Dozens of layoffs expected as Panera closes dough-making plant in Arizona

It will be the fast casual's second such facility to close this year.
Panera Bread unit
It's not clear how many restaurants may have been served by the Arizona dough-making plant. | Photo courtesy of Panera Bread.

Panera Bread plans to close a dough-making facility in Chandler, Arizona, this summer in a move that will result in the layoff of 64 workers.

The fast-casual chain reportedly sent a letter to state officials last week saying it plans to stop operations at the Chandler facility on Aug. 15, according to the Phoenix Business Journal.

Panera LLC on Thursday posted a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, or WARN, notice indicating that 64 workers would be impacted.

Employers in Arizona with more than 100 workers are required to give a 60-day notice for plant closings or mass layoffs.

The letter indicated that the worker layoffs would be split into two groups, with some ending work on Aug. 12 and others on Aug. 15. Panera told state officials the company would be offering a severance package, outplacement services and a job fair,  allowing some to apply for other jobs in the market.

Panera officials declined to respond to questions about the report. It's not clear how many units the facility supplied.

It's the second of the fast casual's dough-making facilities to close this year. Panera closed a facility in Houston in February. Earlier this year, officials told sister publication Nation's Restaurant News that the Houston facility was closed due to "under performance."

That report also cites Reddit posts indicating Panera is shifting from bread baked in house from fresh dough made in the facilities to a par-baked product that is frozen and finished in restaurants.

Panera in February unveiled a menu overhaul that rolled out in April. The “New Era” menu included nine new dishes and updates to another 12, though an unknown number of dishes were also cut, like the flatbreads, for example.

A goal was to streamline and simplify operations. Last year, the chain, which is owned by Europe-based investment company JAB, began preparing for an initial public offering.

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