Panera Expands To Big Cities, Needs To Crank Out Sandwiches Faster

There’s good news and bad news about Panera’s recent expansion into bigger cities like New York and Toronto. The good news is that people are visiting the new locations. The bad news is also good news, in a way: they’ve been forced to make improvements to stores in order to sling sandwiches and salads faster and provide a viable alternative to fast food.

It’s the “fast” part of fast-casual that’s important, after all. People have less time to sit around in a vibrant urban area than an exurban strip mall, and they also have a lot more options if they don’t like what you’re serving up or how fast you’re serving it. Since soup-and-sandwich competitor Così might close some stores in major metropolitan areas, that will open up the light lunch market for a new chain. One whose kitchens can crank out an entreé every six seconds, as a Panera can at peak lunch and dinner hours.

Panera Tries to Speed Up for Its Move Into Cities [Bloomberg Businessweek]