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08/31/2022

Panera Tests New AI Technology for Bakery-Cafe Drive-Thru Lanes

Panera guests in Webster and Greece, NY will be among the first to experience AI Ordering in Drive-Thru.
Michal Christine Escobar
Senior Editor (Hotels)
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On Aug. 29, Panera Bread began testing AI technology in drive-thru lanes with an aim to improve and enhance the guest experience. With support from OpenCity, select Panera bakery-cafes in the greater Rochester, NY area have implemented OpenCity’s proprietary voice AI ordering technology, called “Tori”, for drive-thru orders, with the goal of maximizing efficiency and increasing speed of orders. Guests at Panera Bread cafes in Greece, NY (800 Greece Ridge Center Dr) and Webster, NY (935 Holt Rd) are the first Panera locations to experience this drive-thru innovation.

Tori is installed at these select locations and will take orders as normal at the drive-thru speaker, with Panera associates on standby to assist if needed to troubleshoot any issues. Drive-thru guests can pull up to their Panera drive-thru, place their order as usual with assistance from Tori and pay the Panera associate for their favorite menu items at the drive-thru window. The addition of this technology at the drive-thru will help to cut down wait times, improve order accuracy and allow associates to focus on freshly preparing guests’ orders.

“At Panera, improving our guest experience is always our priority and we are using this innovative technology to help enable a faster, more accurate order for each of our drive-thru guests,” said Debbie Roberts, EVP and Chief Operating Officer, Panera Bread. “The potential of AI drive-thru technology is incredibly exciting for us – we are eager to evaluate the performance of these tests and the possibility of expanding this technology in additional bakery-cafes.”

In addition to drive-thru, Panera Bread has a wide variety of tech-forward ordering options including Contactless Dine-In, Curbside, Rapid Pick-Up® and Delivery so guests can order their Panera favorites when they want and how they want them.