Panera Heightens Customer Engagement Levels With Children’s Menu

Panera Bread CEO Ron Shaich is so confident about his company’s new approach to the children’s menu that he has challenged CEOs everywhere to join him in eating from their respective kid menus exclusively for seven straight days.

Shaich’s challenge comes on the heels of Panera Bread’s new children’s menu whereby kids can choose almost any item on the Panera menu as a smaller-sized entree, resulting in more than 250 clean menu combinations.

“For too long, restaurants in America have served menus full of nutritionally empty chicken nuggets, pizza, and fries, paired with sugary drinks and cheap toys,” said Shaich. “We believe kids must come first. As a parent, I’m proud that I could eat off the Panera kids’ menu and still enjoy delicious and wholesome meals. I’m challenging the CEOs of some of the largest companies in the industry—McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s—to personally eat exclusively from their restaurants’ kids’ meals for an entire week—and if not, to take a thoughtful look at what they are offering our smallest guests.”

In August 2016, Panera issued its Kids Meal Promise to express the company’s long-held beliefs about kids meals and commitments relative to its Panera Kids™ menu. The promise is meant to be a challenge to the restaurant industry and to all food manufacturers who offer kids food. The five tenets of the Kids Meal Promise include:

Clean.  No artificial flavors, preservatives, sweeteners or colors from artificial sources in any menu item (as publicly defined on Panera’s No-No List).

No marketing gimmicks. No cartoon characters, crazy colors, toys, or toy-shaped food.

Real options. Let kids be kids. Let them be picky. Let them make their own choices from a menu full of tasty, wholesome options.

Nutritiously paired.  Growing bodies need a meal complete with nutritious sides. Not fries, not onion rings. Options like organic yogurt, sprouted grain rolls, apples or no side at all.

No sugar-laden drinks as part of a meal.  Kids meals shouldn’t be bundled with a sugary drink.  Ours never have, never will.

“At Panera, we say let kids be picky—our cafes should offer the same choices and transparency to children as we do to adults,” said Sara Burnett, director of wellness and food policy at Panera Bread. “We’re not saying a child will suddenly order a salad over mac & cheese–but kids can surprise you when they have positive options to choose from. We believe that kids should have that choice, and furthermore that we should not bundle their entrees with fries and sugary drinks that make the combination a nutritional nightmare. Finally, we believe we should not induce the consumption of these nutritionally empty meals by marketing a kids’ meal with toys and cartoon characters.”

More than 250 clean kids’ meal combinations are available in Panera cafes as well as via all of Panera’s end-to-end digital pathways, including Rapid Pickup, Fast Lane Kiosks, and Delivery.  Each option is fully customizable, enabling a better guest experience for all people—including kids—to eat the way they want. 

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