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Screengrabs via @meredithmlynch/TikTok, @snachwithzach/TikTok, @sarajmccord/TikTok

‘You pick two is now $16. I don’t know what else to say’: Panera Bread’s menu changes are making diners question their brand loyalty

"The ONLY time I go is when I'm craving the French onion soup. I end up getting multiple items but that soup is why I walk through the door."

In terms of mediocre chain restaurants, Panera Bread has always been an easy crowd pleaser for diners looking for a quick bite. With a variety of salads, soups, and sandwiches up for grabs, as well as delicious baked goods for a sweet treat, Panera has dominated the fast casual restaurant world for over 25 years. However, their latest menu changes have fans of the restaurant deciding if they should give up their baguettes for good.

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In a TikTok posted by user @snachwithzach, images of a internal note from Panera show a variety of popular items being taken off the menu at the chain. Items include cold brew coffee, classic sourdough bread, hot tea, and interestingly, all kid’s menu items. According to Zach, Panera gave a statement to Restaurant Business confirming these discontinued items, saying they were making these changes to offer “guests with a faster and more convenient experience while also simplifying operations for our associates.”

@snachwithzach

Last week, a rumor began spreading that Panera would be making considerable changes to their menu. We now have official confirmation from the company that they are doing a lot of downsizing. Although they didn’t say what would be going away, a Reddit post from user Wolfygirl97 shows what appears to be a full list of the items that may potentially receive the boot. We’ll be breaking some of it down today as well as added context, but keep in mind that the list itself is not confirmed by Panera. #panera#foodnews#foodtok#fastfood#bagels#panerabread#lunch#restaurant#bread#sourdough#bakery#fyp

♬ Final Girl – Instrumental – Haelphon

This trend is not new, as we’ve seen it with many restaurants in a post-COVID world. The majority of restaurants are claiming these changes are necessary to cut costs, as restaurants are still struggling to be as profitable as they were pre-COVID, and as inflation grows and people are less likely to eat out. Many other major restaurant chains such as Dennys, McDonalds, and IHOP saw shrinking menus when reopening after COVID.

It’s also important to note that these changes to Panera Bread may not be coming to you immediately. As mentioned in their statement to Restaurant Business, these menu changes are being trialed at a “small amount” of locations for the time being. So your local Panera may still have chocolate chip bagels for the time being, but don’t count on them being there forever.

Naturally, many people on TikTok are furious about these changes. Continuing with the conversation, TikTok user @meredithmlynch stitched the original video discussing the changes, arguing that the private equity owners of Panera Bread are to blame for the changes. For context, JAB Holding Company, a private equity group, bought the chain in 2017. However she makes a point that even if you go looking for an item that is off the menu, in her example the blueberry bagel, you’ll just get something else and soon forget all about the thing you loved most about the restaurant.

However in a stitch to one of her responses, TikTok user @sarajmccord argues that fans of the brand aren’t going to be loyal to a company they no longer enjoy. Using Meredith’s example about the blueberry bagel, Sarah points out two kinds of regular Panera Bread customers: those who go as part of their routine, and those who go looking for a healthy option.

@sarajmccord

#stitch with @Meredith Lynch #panera cutting its menu is a bad #branding and #customerloyalty move

♬ original sound – Sara McCord

In the case of the former, if someone goes to Panera wanting their blueberry bagel and can’t find it, they’ll feel betrayed by the brand and if they’re going to try something new, they’re going to do so somewhere else rather than support a brand that they don’t feel like cares about them. In the case of the latter, if they get rid of the majority of their salads, then there’s a hundred healthy options nearby now versus 10 or 15 years ago. Sarah even points out that chains like Starbucks or McDonalds offer salads and protein boxes now, so getting a quick, healthy meal is easy even if you ditch Panera.

Across all three videos, most people echoed Sarah’s point, feeling betrayed by Panera Bread for ditching some of their mainstay items. One commentor made a point of the main issue at hand: “It’s just SO many items. If they were cutting a few items then it would make sense but it’s way too many to even make a good substitution.”

But many were also quick to point out the brand was falling out of relevance long before they made this announcement. One commentor shared, “My order from Panera used to cost 10.35. Now it’s worse quality, costs 17, and I can’t even get the sandwich that I want.” Another mentioned “They’re so overpriced, the only reason I would ever justify going there is to get a specific item. If that’s gone, then RIP Panera.” One even shared how awful the pricing is at their nearest location now: “I got a half salad/soup combo and a soda and it was $20.” Regardless if these changes go chain-wide, it’s clear many Panera fans are looking for alternatives going forward.


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Bethany Wade
Bethany is a freelance writer for We Got This Covered focusing on TikTok and viral trends. When not addicted to her phone, she enjoys checking out the latest theatrical releases and catching up on the newest music. Previous writing credits include Film Daily and Film School Rejects.