KANSAS CITY — Restaurant operators are adapting as the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues. Both Panera Bread, St. Louis, and Subway, Milford, Conn., have started selling some grocery staples to customers.
Panera Grocery is a new service offering customers milk, bread, fresh produce as well as soups, salads or sandwiches. Products may be ordered through the chain’s app or website and may be collected via contactless delivery, pickup or drive-thru.
"From limited choices on grocery shelves to the growing need to limit the number of trips outside of the home, it is an incredibly stressful time when it comes to putting wholesome food on the table, and we knew Panera could help," said Niren Chaudhary, chief executive officer of Panera. "With this new service we can help deliver good food and fresh ingredients from our pantry to yours, helping provide better access to essential items that are increasingly harder to come by."
The Panera program is available at participating stores nationwide.
More than 200 Subway restaurants in five states are selling sandwich ingredients, including bread, meat, cheese and vegetables, as well as chips, cookies and soups to consumers seeking to avoid crowded grocery stores. The initiative, dubbed Subway Grocery, is available in California, Connecticut, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington.
Similar to Panera, participating restaurants offer contact-free curbside pickup, inside pickup and delivery at select locations. Most groceries are sealed in packaging, and vegetables and bread are bagged or wrapped, according to the company.
“With most Subway dining rooms closed due to COVID-19, we're using our access to food distribution to offer Subway ingredients to our local communities during this difficult time,” the company said.
Many items offered through Subway Grocery are priced competitively compared to regular grocery stores, according to the company. A 12-inch loaf of bread, available in varieties such as wheat, jalapeño cheddar and Italian herbs and cheese, costs $1.50. A pack of 150 pre-cooked bacon strips costs $35.75. A 16-oz bag of spinach is $3.50.
“The new Subway Grocery offering is essential as government restrictions and recommendations become more stringent, even advising against going inside grocery stores,” a company spokesperson said. “Consumers who are at high risk or trying to follow the strictest social distancing guidelines now have an easy and quick way to get grocery essentials to their door.”