ST LOUIS—Panera Bread has been working on solutions to meet the catering needs of companies with remote and hybrid offices, CNBC reports. The bakery chain has been developing new ideas to become a corporate cafeteria, even if workers don’t go into the office. During the pandemic’s lockdowns, demand for catered meals from Panera—the majority of which came from colleges and businesses—plummeted as so many employees worked from home.
Now, even though more employees are returning to the office, Panera is looking at how to meet the needs of a changed working environment. “When you have certain people coming in on certain days, some people not coming in at all, how do you maintain that culture, collaboration, relationship?” Chris Correnti, Panera’s senior vice president of off-premise channels, told CNBC.
One initiative involves catering company meetings with a scattered workforce. Correnti said the chain has catered gatherings for hundreds of workers across the United States. Panera also allows the option for loyalty rewards members, with plans to expand it to any customer who pays with a credit card. Once the general public can participate, the program will include personal celebrations, like remote graduation parties or baby showers.
Another program Panera has been exploring involves group ordering for companies, where individual workers order and pay for their own meals at a discount, but the whole order is delivered as a group on a set date. That initiative has been active for six months, with more than 250 locations participating.
“We’ve heard from a lot of companies that this is great because people don’t have the comfort or availability to leave the building and find somewhere else,” he said.
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