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Panera Bread is overhauling its menu

By Jordan Valinsky, CNN

New York (CNN) — Panera’s recent attempt to boost sales with a bigger, more high-end menu isn’t working. So it’s getting back to basics, acknowledging that customers in a world of high inflation are looking for less-expensive food.

Although the company doubled down on dinner offerings as recently as a few years ago, the new menu reverses course and focuses on attracting more breakfast and lunch customers as the company reportedly tries to go public again.

Beginning April 4, eaters will see nine new menu items and “recipe enhancements” to 12 existing salads and sandwiches, the chai said in a press release, its menu grew unwieldy in recent years as it tried to attract dinner guests.

Panera didn’t release a full list of the menu items that are getting the axe, other than confirming that the flatbreads it introduced in 2019 are being eliminated.

“We are getting back to Panera at its best with these menu updates that are centered completely on our guests and what they love about us,” Alicia Mowder, senior vice president of product strategy and insights for Panera, said in a press release.

A spokesperson also confirmed to CNN that these updates are different from a larger change last year that it was testing at a few restaurants, which saw a big chunk of menu items being eliminated. Panera confirmed that the kitchen sink cookie, kids menu and soufflés are staying.

Some new items on the menu include a “Toasted Italiano,” with ham, soppressata and provolone; a “Chicken Bacon Rancher” sandwich that has chicken, bacon and white cheddar; a “Ciabatta Cheesesteak;” and a “Ranch Cobb” salad. Panera is also adding a new macaroni and cheese topped with bacon.

Classics that have long been on the menu, like its “Bravo Club” sandwich and “Fuji Apple” salad are getting upgrades, although the chain didn’t specify how so. Panera teased that more details about that menu changes will be unveiled in March.

Panera is also aiming to lure in budget-conscious customers with some of the new menu items being priced under $10. The chain also said the “transformed menu will help streamline operations for bakery-café teams.”

Panera has yet to remove one menu item that has been under scrutiny: its “Charged Lemonade.” Removing the highly caffeinated drink from the menu could come across as an implied admission that something was wrong with it in the first place, experts have previously told CNN.

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