Panera Bread customers around the country soon will be able to tally calories for their smokehouse turkey panini and broccoli cheddar soup with just a glance at the menu board. The firm announced today that it will be the first nationwide chain to voluntarily post calorie information at all of its company-owned restaurants. The move is notable in an industry that had historically opposed requirements that chain operations post calorie counts.
Congress is considering mandating such calorie postings nationwide, and Panera officials admitted that possibility played a role in the move. But they also were pleased with how their customers reacted at locations that already advertise calorie counts. "It puts everything out in the open, obviously," said the company's chief concept officer. Calorie counts will be posted by March 24 at all 585 company-owned stores, including Saint Louis Bread Co. and Paradise Bakery & Cafe stores. (Read more Panera Bread stories.)