Panera Bread/Au Bon Pain: Ron Shaich In the early 1980s, Ron Shaich bought a small, struggling Boston bakery chain called Au Bon Pain, and built it out to 250 locations nationwide. Ron then saw an opportunity to build something even bigger: Panera Bread. It was the start of "fast casual" – a new kind of eating experience, between fast food and restaurant dining. Today, Panera Bread has over 2,000 stores, and $5 billion in annual sales. Plus, for our postscript "How You Built That," how Tyson Walters got so tired of his St. Bernard shedding everywhere that he created the Shed Defender, a zip-up body suit for dogs that captures loose hair.
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Panera Bread/Au Bon Pain: Ron Shaich

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Panera Bread/Au Bon Pain: Ron Shaich

Panera Bread/Au Bon Pain: Ron Shaich

Panera Bread/Au Bon Pain: Ron Shaich

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/606517556/606690789" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

In the early 1980s, Ron Shaich bought a small, struggling Boston bakery chain called Au Bon Pain, and built it out to 250 locations nationwide. Ron then saw an opportunity to build something even bigger: Panera Bread. It was the start of "fast casual" – a new kind of eating experience, between fast food and restaurant dining. Today, Panera Bread has over 2,000 stores, and $5 billion in annual sales. Plus, for our postscript "How You Built That," how Tyson Walters got so tired of his St. Bernard shedding everywhere that he created the Shed Defender, a zip-up body suit for dogs that captures loose hair.

Connor Heckert for NPR
Panera Bread now has more than 2,000 bakery-cafe locations.
Connor Heckert for NPR