Connor Heckert for NPR
In the early 1980s, Ron Shaich bought a small, struggling Boston bakery chain called Au Bon Pain, and built it out to 250 locations nationwide.
Ron then saw an opportunity to build something even bigger: Panera Bread.
It was the start of “fast casual” – a new kind of eating experience, between fast food and restaurant dining.
Today, Panera Bread has over 2,000 stores, and $5 billion in annual sales.
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