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Panera Bread Turns Into a Grocery Store During Coronavirus Pandemic

Takeout and delivery services haven't been enough to keep the popular chain in business.
panera bread

While many restaurants are still offering delivery and takeout during the coronavirus pandemic, Panera Bread is taking its services one step further. The sandwich and salad place is now selling groceries.

It's no news that U.S. restaurant sales are dropping rapidly in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus. On the contrary, grocery sales are surging an enormous amount as more people are staying at home and preparing their own meals to avoid person to person contact as much as possible.

Online grocery shopping is especially booming during these unprecedented times. In mid-March, CNN reported that consumers' downloading apps such as Instacart, Walmart's grocery app, and Shipt (Target's grocery service) increased by 218 percent, 160 percent, and 124 percent, respectively, in a matter of just a few weeks.

Now, Panera is stepping up and offering groceries to both help consumers and to help keep their business afloat. Panero CEO Niren Chaudhary told CNBC that the chain lost half of its business after they shuttered the dining rooms.

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"It's a win for our associates because we will be able to keep our cafes open longer, and it's great from a business standpoint because it should be incremental profit and revenue for us at a time when we desperately need it," Chaudhary told CNBC.

RELATED: Your ultimate restaurant and supermarket survival guide is here!

As of Monday, Panera is now selling bread, bagels, yogurt, cream cheese, and even fresh produce to customers, who can place their order either online or through the app. Consumers can even put a grocery order in using the Grubhub app.

Restaurants turning into temporary grocery stores may become a more widespread trend in the U.S. until things settle down. New York City had already hopped on this trend in March, with several local restaurants selling groceries to support staff while also offering another food resource to their respective local community.

READ MORE: 7 Things You Touch at the Grocery Store That Can Transmit Coronavirus

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.

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Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and drink coverage, and breaking down the science behind the latest health studies and information. Read more