Panera, a fast-casual restaurant chain known for its Cinnamon Crunch Bagels, bread bowls, and gigantic mugs of hot chocolate, just got a brand new parent company. It was announced this morning that JAB Holdings has acquired the chain.
While you might not recognize the JAB name, you're definitely familiar with a few of the other food and beverage companies it owns. JAB is also the parent company of Caribou Coffee, Peet's Coffee, Stumptown Coffee, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Einstein Bros. Bagels, and Keurig. Are you starting to see a pattern? The holding company has forged a name for itself as a coffee empire and has also purchased quite a few chains known for making food that go with said morning cup of joe. Panera, with its cafe atmosphere and extensive bakery offerings fits right in to JAB's portfolio.
Reuters reports that this purchase of Panera Bread Co. by JAB Holdings is the biggest restaurant chain purchase ever to take place in the United States. That massive deal was for a whopping $7.2 billion. Reuters also pointed out that this is the second-biggest restaurant deal to take place in all of North America. You may remember the largest was when Burger King purchased Tim Horton's back in 2014 for $11.4 billion.
Some people have expressed concern on social media over the fact that the same holding company that owns a popular doughnut chain has purchased a fast casual chain known for having more healthful menu options. But Panera's CEO and founder Ron Shaich says there's nothing to worry about. Shaich told Fortune today, "Panera will be a separate company with its own direction. If there are resources that we can use to help our strategic plan, we are going to look for them. But no one is going to force us to do anything." So, Panera customers probably won't see much of a change, although some of us wouldn't mind having the option to get a glazed doughnut to go with our salads.