How Panera Bread Navigated Covid, the Labor Market, Inflation and More To Stay Open While Keeping Bread Prices Low

Enlarge this image toggle caption Mark Lennihan/Courtesy of Panera Bread Mark Lennihan/Courtesy of Panera Bread

At the heart of the Panera Bread story is not a question of closing to protect workers’ health. It’s more of a question of staying open to provide a life of abundance for the people who are most interested in that.

“We all want to go to work,” says Panera Chief Operating Officer Greg Creedon.

“But what it comes down to is you’ve got a huge customer base who is really interested in not sacrificing what they enjoy,” Creedon explains.

The company is about to open a second location in downtown Cleveland in the first quarter of 2020.

The store in Cleveland, on East 12th Street, is the third location for the company in the country. The one in New York City opened back in mid-April, and the one in Ohio was announced last week.

A lot of factors go into deciding whether to close or not, Creedon explains.

“The most fundamental one is obviously the cost of your labor,” he says. He’s referring to the labor force, which includes restaurant employees, delivery workers, and others who work in the kitchen and bathrooms.

To that end, Creedon says the company is looking at its labor costs and adjusting accordingly. One of his team members, for example, has been working from home. “Even if we had her there she would still be a part of the kitchen team.”

He says the team has also reviewed its financial costs by comparing it to where the company was when it opened and where it is now. The cost per transaction was “significantly” lower.

“The second most important single metric we measure is the unit cost per transaction,” Creedon explains. It helps determine when a restaurant is more or less expensive to work at compared to where it is now (at the moment of

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