Panera Bread Franchise v. Competition: What You Should Know

Thinking about buying a fast-food franchise? There are some drawbacks. Learn why it may not be the best investment and what type of franchise is a better choice. Panera Bread franchises are increasing rapidly, but there are some things to know if you’re interested in owning one. Find out how they compare to other franchises.

Panera Bread

Panera Bread is a fast-casual restaurant chain with operations in the U.S. and Canada. It operates more than 2,000 locations in the two countries. Headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, the company was founded in 1987 by Ken and Linda Rosenthal as The St. Louis Bread Company. It was bought off by Au Bon Pain Co. in 1993 and rebranded to Panera Bread Company in 1997. Its menu consists of bakery items, sandwiches, soups, salads, pasta, and specialty drinks. According to Restaurant Business, Panera Bread is the 10th largest chain in the U.S. by sales, at just under $6 billion.
Currently Panera Bread does not offer single-unit franchise ownership. The brand has chosen to focus on developing market areas by requiring prospective franchise owners to purchase multiple units, typically around 15 bakery cafes within a six-year period. Would-be Panera Bread franchise owners must be willing and able to adhere to an aggressive development schedule and possess previous experience as multi-unit restaurant operators and have a net worth of at least $7.5 million, with $3 million in liquid assets. Between the financial requirements and multi-unit rule, many ambitious entrepreneurs will be unable to invest in this brand.

Well, What About Chipotle?

There are definitely options besides Panera Bread for hungry investors. As one of the Panera Bread franchise’s closest competitors, Chipotle has made a broad global impact on the restaurant industry since it came on the scene in 1993. Considered a healthier alternative to other quick-service Mexican-style alternatives, Chipotle also revolutionized the type of fast-casual menu customization we see in more restaurants today, which offers customers a range of options within focused categories that is both convenient and inexpensive while of an elevated quality.
Like Panera Bread, Chipotle does not currently offer franchise opportunities, although it once did. Back in 1996, McDonald’s became a massive investor in Chipotle, and their investment paved the way for the company to expand to over 500 restaurants by 2005. When McDonald’s divested in 2006, the company then bought back all the franchises, and the units became solely company owned.
As of today, Chipotle claims they are no longer taking on franchisees because they don’t want to “compromise the experience” of how their business is run. While it’s true that business entities give up a certain amount of corporate-level control by working with franchisees, the thousands of franchise brands in the U.S. see this as a strength rather than an imposition.

A Better Way with Wayback Burgers

Wayback Burgers has been at the forefront of the better-burger movement since its founding in 1991. As an affordable, higher-quality burger franchise, Wayback Burgers is a leader in the fast-casual sector, combining the quick service of fast food with the elevated menu and dining experience of fast-casual. With over 16 years of franchising experience, Wayback Burgers has blazed a path toward sustainable growth, welcoming new restaurant owners around the world. No prior restaurant experience is required, as Wayback Burgers provides top-notch training and ongoing support to ensure that each and every franchise owner is on track for success.
The initial investment to open a Wayback Burgers location ranges between $209,000 and $633,000 making it one of the most lucrative burger franchise opportunities for motivated and passionate entrepreneurs.

To learn more about franchising opportunities with Wayback Burgers, get started today.