In April 2017, JAB Holdings, owner of Caribou Coffee and Peet’s Coffee & Tea, acquired Panera Bread (PNRA) for $7.5 billion or $315 per share. Not bad for a company whose shares were trading at a $3 and change and a $75 million market cap back in 2000. Yes, Panera was a microcap back then. Panera Bread was founded by intelligent fanatic Ron Shaich (far left in photo above) by opening up a cookie store in 1980. Then in 1981 he merged that store with three other stores called Au Bon Pain to create Au Bon Pain Co. By 1985, they paid back the debt and developed a bakery café concept. They shifted from just being a bakery to using the bakery to sell soup and sandwiches. In 1991, the company went public. In 1993, the company purchased Saint Louis Company, a chain of 20 bakery cafes. In 1999, the company sold off all its business units except Panera Bread and changed its name to Panera Bread. The rest is history, except the history is so much better told by founder Ron Shaich.
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