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Merrimack Valley

April 13, 2014

Panera CEO looks to fix ordering system

(Continued)

Q: Tell us about how Panera 2.0 is going to work.

A: Like most restaurants, Panera operates with a one-size-fits-all system. But the reality is that's not necessarily how I need it and want it.

I drive my kids to school three times a week. We stop at the Panera by my office. I used to pick up the phone about seven or eight minutes out from the store and I'd call the store and I'd say, 'hey, can you take my order?' I'd always be worried that they didn't get the order right, so I made sure they read the order back. I'd hand my son my credit card, and he'd run in and we'd be out in a minute. I'd say to myself, 'this is wonderful, but it's only working for the CEO. What about the other 8 million people?' We began to think about how we change that guest experience. Why couldn't you order food on the Web, order your food in multiple ways and have the food made as you were driving to the store? Why couldn't you walk into the store, walk past the line that's always there? Walk over to a special area where your food is waiting for you?

Q: How does the eat-in experience change?

A: It changes the whole thing. Imagine a world where I could place my order (on a mobile device) as I sat down. And imagine a world where it actually knew what my order was. I order the same latte, two pumps, not three, of caramel. Extra foamy with skim milk. I do it 20 times a week. Why couldn't it remember that? We began to imagine a world where you could place an eat-in order from the table and have the food brought right to you. Or you could go to a kiosk and place the order. Or yet again, you could go to a register. Everybody is talking about technology in the restaurant industry. It's the new thing. But technology doesn't matter if it doesn't change the guest experience.

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