CHICAGO — Bakery cafes such as Panera Bread Co., Atlanta Bread Co. and Einstein Bros. Bagels are poised to leverage new growth opportunities in the restaurant industry as the economy recovers, according to a new study from Technomic Inc.

The report, "2009 Technomic Top 25 Bakery Cafe Chains Restaurant Report," shows system-wide sales for the bakery-cafe industry rose 12% in 2008 to more than $4.5 billion, led by Panera Bread and Einstein Bros. with sales of $2.6 billion and $393 million, respectively.

"The consumer trade-down from full-service to limited-service formats that solidified through 2008 and into 2009 allowed fast-casual bakery cafes to truly shine," said Darren Tristano, executive vice-president for Technomic. "The appeal of moderately priced, high-quality menu offerings served in contemporary ambiance, as well as consumer perception of value for this format, has more than likely strengthened over the past year."

In addition to the sales growth, Technomic’s report noted a 6.6% increase in bakery-cafe units during 2008 to 3,107 locations. Panera accounted for nearly 43% of the total units, while Einstein Bros. comprised 16%, Technomic said.

The study also provides insight into trends and products, including the expansion of breakfast offerings from Atlanta Bread, Corner Bakery Cafe and Panera Bread; revamped catering programs such as Au Bon Pain’s Hot Lunch line; value equation offerings such as La Madeleine’s Choose Two Menu, Einstein Bros. Bagels’ Snack-Out menu and Au Bon Pain’s small-bite Portions menu; and social media programs on Facebook and Twitter.

To purchase or learn more about the report, visit