Panera Is Finally Entering The 21st Century With Drive-Thru Pick-Up

Soup and sandwich chain Panera may be a cut above your standard burger-and-fries joint when it comes to menu quality and healthy fast food eating options, but it's a step behind when it comes to modern food ordering. As of 2021, over 80% of Panera's customers preferred to dine out rather than in and more than half of its customers make purchases via the app or website. It seems a bit strange, then, that the restaurant is only now, halfway through 2023, announcing its latest, greatest, innovation: You can finally order food online or in-app and opt to pick it up at the drive-through window.

To this, we say, Panera, what took you so long? All of the pieces were already in place –- 44% of the chain's locations already offer drive-through ordering as of 2021, and it has allowed customers to order ahead and pick up items in-store since 2016. Why, then, did it wait until now to put those two things together? Well, better late than never.

Panera is promoting its new innovation with a sweet (though limited) discount

If you're a member of Panera's customer loyalty program MyPanera — or are willing to join — you could be eligible to score a pretty decent discount off your next order: $5 off a $15 purchase, which is technically 33% off if you stick to the minimum spend. For this, you could get maybe a sandwich or panini plus a soup, salad, or pasta, which is not a bad lunch for $10. The catch is, in order to get this deal, you not only must be a MyPanera member, but you'll also need to know the secret password (hint: it's 5OFFDTPICKUP). What's more, you will have to a) place your order digitally and b) pick it up in the drive-thru.

If your local Panera does not have a drive-through and you have to pick up your order via the in-store Rapid Pick-Up shelf or have it delivered to you at curbside, you're out of luck. If you're a seat-of-your-pants decision maker and you prefer to place your order at the drive-through window instead of ordering ahead of time, again, no discount for you. Even if you do comply with all of the stipulations, though, be aware that this is a limited-time offer. The discount only applies during the month of June, and it can also be voided, as per Panera's press release, due to "computer error, electronic or technical malfunctions, or other unforeseen circumstances."