Panera Bread is selling groceries out of its cafes as the coronavirus crisis slams restaurants across the country.
The St. Louis-based chain has begun offering milk, bread, produce and other staples alongside its sandwiches and salads through a new “Panera Grocery” service. Shoppers can order the items online for delivery or pickup at participating restaurants, the company said Wednesday.
“From limited choices on grocery shelves to the growing need to limit the number of trips outside of the home, it is an incredibly stressful time when it comes to putting wholesome food on the table, and we knew Panera could help,” Panera CEO Niren Chaudhary said in a statement.
Panera is the latest restaurant chain to pivot to groceries as the industry grapples with lockdown measures aimed at controlling the coronavirus, which have forced many eateries to close or only offer takeout and delivery service. The pandemic has also sparked panic shopping at supermarkets that has led some grocery chains to place purchase limits on certain products.
Customer transactions at restaurants plunged 42 percent in the week ending March 29 compared to the same week last year as roughly 97 percent of US eateries were under restrictions of some kind, according to NPD Group, a market research firm.
The Juice Press smoothie bar chain has started delivering groceries including fruits, vegetables and packaged soups in the New York City and Boston areas. And Midwestern chain Frisch’s Big Boy is selling toilet paper as well as food staples out of its restaurants.