How We Adapted During the Pandemic

How Panera Bread Navigated Covid, the Labor Market, Inflation and More

When I first learned about Covid — during the height of the pandemic in early May — I was struck by the speed of how quickly many jobs disappeared while others — such as our pastry shop — adapted and rose above this. Many people made sacrifices, left their jobs and/or closed their businesses to deal with loss of revenue from decreased business during the pandemic. We were fortunate that, during our short time in the restaurant business, a large majority of our customers chose to come out and eat at our new restaurant.

It was a difficult time, but our restaurant continues to do very well and we are currently very happy with our new owner-operators and menu from this location.

While we are not a restaurant to have a lot of business during the pandemic, we do have some very loyal customers who have supported us during this time and have even come to the restaurant — and not only have customers come to the new restaurant, but people are also calling to ask about coming to the restaurant, too!

As all of you have read, I thought I would share with you — and show you the progress we’ve made on how we adapted throughout this time.

First, some history. In late January of 2019, we hired one of our pastry chefs, Brian Hagan, who then became our Vice President of Operations. Within the year, he became our pastry chef de cuisine — the person in charge of all the pastry work in the restaurant and in our bakery. In mid-April of 2019, we had another pastry chef join the business, Adam Womack, who was then promoted to our pastry chef de cuisine — the person in charge of all the pastry work in the bakery.

As we moved through the pandemic, we had to keep our doughs, pastries and breads coming from our bakery fresh, which meant that we had to temporarily close the bakery.

During this time, we had to find ways for our employees to work. People were being asked to work from home or work from remote work options, but they weren’t always available. It was impossible for some people to work remotely while working from another location.

We worked with our local health department to do what would be necessary to ensure our employees and the community could maintain social distancing while working.

In the end, the pandemic was not over.

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