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Panera debuts plant-based menu

New specialty diet menus also include protein-rich and nutrient-packed items

Panera Bread Co. has added specialty diet items to its in-house and digital menus, the company said Thursday.

The St. Louis-based bakery-café chain said the new menus make it easier for guests to customize items to their dietary needs and preferences, such as plant-based, high protein and other nutritional categories.

The items were created by registered dietitians and are given more flexibility on Panera’s digital-ordering platforms, the company said.

“The new, curated menus take the guesswork out of our menu for a guest with specific taste or dietary preferences, making it faster and easier for them to enjoy our food,” said Ron Shaich, Panera founder, chairman and CEO, in a statement. 

Three categories of curated items are being introduced: 

• A plant-based menu is aimed at vegetarians and vegans, and offers such ingredients as almonds, quinoa, romaine, arugula, avocado, citrus and blueberries. It also offers a new Ancient Grain Greek Salad created by Frances Largeman-Roth, a registered dietitian nutritionist. 

• A protein-rich menu is focused on those who are fitness-minded. Each option provides at least 20 percent of the recommended daily allowance of protein. The menu features a new Avocado Cobb Salad with Chicken created by Mitzi Dulan, a registered dietitian.

• A nutrient-packed menu features a balance of calories, fat, sodium, carbohydrates, fiber and protein. It features a new Blueberry and White Balsamic Salad, also created by Dulan.

“The new, curated menus are another way we’re making it easier for our guests to order great food that works for their lifestyle,” said Katie Bengston, Panera’s nutrition manager, said in a press release.

The curated menus are available on Panera’s digital-ordering in-store kiosks, website and mobile app. 

As of June 27, Panera had 2,043 bakery-cafés in 46 states and Ontario. Restaurants operate under the Panera Bread, St. Louis Bread Co., or Paradise Bakery & Cafe names. 

Panera Bread Co. is in the process of being sold to JAB Holding Co. On Tuesday, shareholders approved the sale.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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