- Panera is testing milkshakes inspired by its bakery items in various markets in Texas, including Waxahachie, Waco, Killeen, Cedar Hill, Temple, Mansfield and Grand Prairie, the company wrote in an email to Restaurant Dive.
- The three shakes, which are available for $5.79 each, come in The Kitchen Sink, Fudge Brownie Swirl and Strawberry Cheesecake Swirl flavors, which are inspired by a cookie, brownie and cake of the same respective names.
- Panera, which may roll out these shakes nationwide during warmer seasons, has been adding permanent items to its menu for several years, including grain bowls in 2019 and flatbread pizzas in 2020.
The Kitchen Sink cookie and Signature Brownie sell more than 30,000 units a day, Panera said, so the corresponding shakes could attract heightened consumer interest. The shakes could also be a differentiator from other bakery cafe chains, like Corner Bakery, that don’t offer such items. During all of its product tests, Panera evaluates sales, the employee experience and customer feedback, the company wrote to Restaurant Dive in an email.
The fast casual chain is looking to expand its reach with customers. Earlier this month, it opened its first updated urban store format in New York City as part of its strategy to open units in more densely populated markets, shifting away from its suburban focus. Panera plans to open more non-traditional locations in airports and hospitals. Earlier this year, it updated its Ultimate Sip Club to include all self-serve drinks and revised its loyalty program to allow customers to choose their rewards. The chain also recently launched a new chicken sandwich.
Other chains have been innovating their menus as well this year. Earlier this month, Sweetgreen added a dessert category with the launch of its Crispy Rice Treat, and the chain is looking to add heartier dinner items and kids meals to its menu. Pizza Hut added Melts to its menu, while Del Taco added tortas and Papa Johns added Papa Bowls.