Panera has really been hitting it out of the park lately; between the mac and cheese bar and the lobster rolls, it didn’t really look like things could get any better than they already are. But hey, guess what? Panera is testing a dinner menu soon — and it includes not just a whole bunch of new items, but also three entirely new categories. How’s that for keeping your options open?
Panera has long been open in the evenings — heck, my nearest location is open until 10 p.m. every day of the week except Sundays (that’s the day it closes at 9 p.m. instead) — but if you head to Panera anytime from about 5 o’clock onward, you’re usually in the “Lunch-For-Dinner” boat. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; a good sandwich goes a long way, particularly when you're on the go. But if you tend to like your evening meals a little heartier than your lunchtime ones, then Panera’s upcoming dinner menu test might be exactly what you’re looking for. Here’s hoping it makes the cut for a wider release!
The test will begin in two cities starting in July and September: Lexington, Ky. in July and Providence, R.I. in September. If you’re located in one of these two places, you’ll be able to get your hands on the dinner menu test items from 4:30 p.m. until 10 p.m. every day. Ordering will be simple; the items will be available both at actual Panera locations and via delivery, meaning you’ll be able to use Panera’s digital ordering platforms, the Rapid Pickup service, and any of the delivery options in order to get ‘em. (Pretty much the only way you won’t be able to get a hold of them is through catering. Apologies to anyone arranging catered events this summer and fall.)
What exactly is on the test menu, you ask? There are 10 items total, spanning four categories: Dinner Bowls, Artisan Flatbreads, Signature Sides, and Hot And Hearty Sandwiches. The hot sandwiches are obviously not a new category — they’re a huge part of Panera’s regular offerings — but the bowls, flatbreads, and sides will all be making their debut as part of the dinner test. Here are some details about what you’ve got to look forward to: