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Panera Tries to Speed Up for Its Move Into Cities

A New York Panera in 2013
A New York Panera in 2013Photograph by Scott Eells/Bloomberg

To compete with fast-food chains, Panera has been trying to get orders out faster with upgraded equipment and additional workers. Nowhere has the learning curve been faster than in the chain’s new city restaurants, which can produce an entrée as often as every six seconds during peak hours.

Panera’s growth plan involves opening new restaurants in “urban areas where we may have little operating experience,” according to a filing with the Security and Exchange Commission last year, after adding eight restaurants in New York, Boston, and Toronto. While the chain had some urban locations, many of its stores are in the suburbs or malls.