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With this announcement, Panera’s current CEO Niren Chaudhary will move into the chairman position.

Panera Brands names José Alberto Dueñas CEO as it prepares to go public

The current president and CEO of Einstein Bros. has been named Panera CEO, effective July 1.

Panera Brands this morning announced that José Alberto Dueñas will be the company’s CEO, effective July 1, as the company prepares for its IPO. Dueñas is currently the president and CEO of Einstein Bros. Bagels, which merged with Panera Bread, along with Caribou Coffee, in August 2021.

With this announcement, Panera’s current CEO Niren Chaudhary will move into the chairman position. The company has also named former Starbucks CEO and independent director Patrick Grismer as chairman of the audit committee.

An IPO will bring Panera back to the public market for a second time. The company was public until 2017 when it was bought by JAB Holdings. The 3,852-unit global company said it generated $4.8 billion in revenue in 2022, most of which came from digital sales, which account for 53% of the company’s mix. Its loyalty program includes 53 million members, while its Unlimited Sip Club program accounts for 25% of all Panera transactions.

Dueñas was named president and CEO of Einstein Bros. Bagels in 2019 and has led the company through an operating model simplification strategy that it says has improved the guest experience, unit-level economics and margins. Previously, he served as chief brand officer for Sonic Drive-In and also held leadership positions with Darden Restaurants.

“I’m truly honored to have the opportunity to lead the phenomenal group of people at Panera Brands and be part of what is undoubtedly one of the most iconic brands in food,” Dueñas said in a statement. “I believe that with this incredibly dedicated team and our great franchisee partners we can continue to deliver a best-in-class guest experience, increase our positive impact in the communities we serve and accelerate key growth-driving initiatives to prepare the company for a future public listing.”

Grismer joined the company’s board in 2022 following a 36-year career in finance, including as CFO at Starbucks, Hyatt Hotels, and Yum Brands.

“It has been an honor to lead Panera Brands during such a transformative time for our company,” Chaudhary said in a statement. “Not only have we introduced innovative new concepts to the fast casual dining industry, but we have expanded our global footprint and formally united Panera Bread, Caribou Coffee and Einstein Bros. to create one of the largest and most vibrant fast casual companies in the world. I have had the privilege of working closely together with José over the last several years, and I look forward to continuing to work with him to drive long-term value creation as chairman.”

Panera didn’t provide further details in the timing of its IPO. Its announcement comes less than a week after Mediterranean concept CAVA announced its intention to go public. Otherwise, the IPO market in the industry has been relatively quiet throughout the past year, after a busy 2021 in which five restaurant companies went public – Krispy Kreme, Portillo’s, First Watch, Dutch Bros. and Sweetgreen.

Contact Alicia Kelso at [email protected]

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