Panera Bread Employment Opportunities

When I visit Panera Bread, I always feel like I’ve stumbled into a Paris bistro, as if I stepped through a wormhole or something. It’s such an elegant place with great food, tons of options, and free WI-FI.

What’s not to like? Not much that I can think of, I’ll tell you that. So, let’s find out how you can get your hands on a Panera Bread application.

I’ll guide you through the company’s history, its culture, and what you can expect to earn in terms of salary and benefits. These are always a journey, so let’s take that first step, shall we?

A Brief History of Panera Bread and its Culture

Panera Bread is a chain of bakery-cafe fast casual restaurants located in the United States and in Canada. The headquarters is in Sunset Hills, Missouri which is a suburb of St. Louis. In that area, it’s not called by its usual name, instead it goes by the Saint Louis Bread Company.

The menu consists of soups, salads, pastas, sandwiches, and bakery items.

This story begins, like so many others, as a single location. In 1981, St. Louis bread opened in Kirkwood, Missouri.

After being purchased by Au Bon Pain the company sought to expand it into a national chain in May of 1999. As of today, the company has 1,800 locations that are either corporate owned or franchised. With locations spanning 40 states, you’ll be hard-pressed not to find one.

There are 20 facilities as well that deliver fresh dough to the bakery-cafe locations every single day. In the St. Louis area where the locations still go by the older name, there are 101 locations branded with that title.

Panera Bread was also the second restaurant in this industry to post the exact calorie information at all company-owned locations. They did this voluntarily as well.

Panera Bread store frontThe website displays a nutrition calculator where you can browse the items and see the nutrition broken down to the individual ingredients.

You can put together meals and see how it stacks up on the basis of a 2,000 calorie diet. Panera Bread recently said that they also plan to remove all artificial additives from their food by the year 2016.

The company’s menu is broken down in several categories:

  • Sandwiches
  • Paninis
  • Pastas
  • Soups & More
  • Flatbreads
  • Salads
  • Side Choices
  • Panera Kids
  • Fruit Smoothies
  • Frozen Drinks
  • Iced Drinks
  • Coffee, Tea, and Lemonade
  • Espresso Drinks


This is all in addition to the bakery items that are offered which include croissants, bagels, cookies, brownies, and more. Beyond the standard menu, there is also a hidden one that is featured entirely on the company’s social media.

This menu includes items such as a power breakfast egg white bowl with roasted turkey and other unique options.

In 2009 Panera Bread started a non-profit foundation called Panera Cares. As part of this initiative they started a “Pay What You Can” location in St. Louis. There have also been several similar locations opened in Dearborn, Michigan, Portland, Chicago, and Boston. Each location serves 3,500 people every week.

Finally, the company pioneered the concept of free WI-FI in their locations. They did however have to put a limit on it during their peak hours where the service is only provided at 30 or 60 minute intervals.

Direct Competitors

Panera Bread has some stiff competition in the field of cafe restaurants. The largest competitor that comes to mind is Starbucks which is also a great company to work for. In addition, Dunkin’ Donuts provides plenty of job opportunities for potential candidates.

These are both great options for you to pursue in addition to the company of current note.

Panera Application Online

In order to work with Panera Bread, you must be at least sixteen years old. Sorry, but I don’t make the rules, I just research them, put them into practice, and enforce them. Just kidding, but assuming that you fit the age requirement, head on over to the careers page of the company website. From here you can enter your zip code and search for openings.

The process is fairly straightforward with an online account creation and then filling out the employment forms. You will fill out a questionnaire as well, detailing your past experience, availability, and personal references.

To make things as smooth as possible, the best thing to do prior to filling out the online form is to gather all the information you need which will allow the whole process to occur more smoothly. After you’ve finished applying, you can expect to hear back within a week or two. Usually managers will call and set up an interview over the phone.

To expedite the process (and help raise your chances of being hired) you can call or stop in to the location you applied for.

Here you can introduce yourself, maybe drop off a hard copy of your resume, and put a great first impression in with the hiring manager. It may seem like a little thing, but a gesture like this can do wonders for your potential.

When you decide to stop in and introduce yourself, dress like you’re going in for an interview. Nice clothes, and a clean groomed look will put off a great visual impression as well. Don’t forget to stop by somewhere between the lunch and dinner hours when it tends to be slower.

Benefits and Salary Information

Depending the position you’re applying for, you can expect some lucrative salary options, but also some odd work hours and additional requirements. Hourly positions are offered to entry-level candidates.

These positions tend to cover multiple aspects of the business from assisting customers, to busing tables, to ringing up purchases. These base level positions can offer anywhere from minimum wage to $12.00 per hour.

Bakers are also hired to work early morning and overnight shifts to ensure that the day’s pastries and bakery items are prepared for the coming day of business.

While the hours can be somewhat odd, the pay is quite nice. It starts around $8.00 per hour but it can go upwards of $15.00 per hour. This is one position where an age of 18 will be required.

Reaching management level requires experience and hard work. Managers with Panera supervise up to 50 employees at a time and the restaurant requires people who work well under pressure and handle the pressures of such a fast-paced environment well.

Working with Panera Bread offers you a lot of different benefits as well:

  • Medical, dental, and vision insurance
  • Flexible spending accounts
  • Employee stock purchase plans
  • Competitive pay
  • Life Insurance
  • Disability programs
  • Employee discounts

Final Thoughts

Panera Bread may be a relatively new company, but it’s rooted in old-fashioned principles. The company wants to create a fun and welcoming place for both employees and customers.

This is a great place to work not because it’s clean, because it has good food, or because it’s prevalent. This is a company that cares about it’s employees and wants them to have a good time at work.

There are numerous opportunities to grow and build your career with this company, and with constant growth happening every day, there’s no reason why you can’t find a position sooner than later. Don’t forget to apply with accurate information, and introduce yourself with a smile and appropriate attire. An interview will come, and when it does you should be prepared, calm, and focused.

Filling out a Panera Bread application is your ticket to starting a rewarding and fun career. Don’t wait, apply today.