Panera Is Testing Alcohol Sales at Certain Locations

Pour a beer into your bread bowl.

Panera Bread logo in Queens borough
Photo: SOPA Images / Contributor via Getty

It's been a stressful time for Americans across the political spectrum, what with a presidential election during a pandemic to contend with. That has unsurprisingly led to a lot of people purchasing more booze than usual.

While there are plenty of good reasons to do that from the comfort of your own home, the good news is that a lucky handful of folks around Kansas City can now get their drink on at the area's hottest new bar— Panera.

As of October 28, Pan American Group, a subsidiary of Flynn Restaurant Group, which just so happens to be Panera's second largest franchisee, is letting customers get a taste of beer, wine, and hard seltzer. According to Nation's Restaurant News, the test of this "Panera Tonight: Beer, Wine & Dine" program is taking place at five particular Panera locations in the Kansas City area, serving alcohol from 4 p.m. onward.

The push comes at a time when Panera wants to try and gin up some sales during the evening hours. The pilot program for these potent potables began on the same day as Panera introduced its three new flatbread pizzas, and it's clear that Flynn Restaurant Group hopes that the two additions to the menu will function as complimentary purchases.

"We are targeting our dinner and evening guests that are looking to pair a beer or wine with our great products like our new flatbread pizzas," Flynn's head of marketing Randy Bates told Nation's Restaurant News. "This is one of the areas we believe is a growth opportunity for our brand. We always like to give our guests choices."

So what's on the drink menu? So far, it looks like offerings from KC's own Boulevard Brewing Co. as well as Napa Valley-based Ménage à Trois Wines. The menu includes Boulevard's beers, plus Quirk, their spiked seltzer line.

The caveat here is that the alcohol is only available for dine-in customers, at least during the pilot program. So if you need a little liquid courage in order to venture out of the house and sit down at a Panera, now's your time. Bonus points if you chug a Boulevard pale ale from a bread bowl.

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