Panera Brands names José Alberto Dueñas CEO, readies IPO

Patrick Grismer, formerly CFO of Starbucks, joins Board Audit Committee

Panera Brands continues to ready itself for an IPO. The company has solidified its leadership team ahead of the eventual offering. José Alberto Dueñas will become chief executive officer of Panera Brands July 1, 2023. He will take the place of the company’s current CEO, Niren Chaudhary, who will transition to chairman of the Panera Brands Board of Directors.

In addition, Panera Brands named Patrick Grismer chairman of the Audit Committee. Previously, he served as CFO and independent director of Starbucks. Panera Brands comprises Panera Bread, Einstein Bros. Bagels and Caribou Coffee.

“It has been an honor to lead Panera Brands during such a transformative time for our company,” said Chaudhary. “Not only have we introduced innovative new concepts to the fast casual dining industry, but we have expanded our global footprint and formally united Panera Bread, Caribou Coffee and Einstein Bros. to create one of the largest and most vibrant fast casual companies in the world.”

According to a company announcement, Panera Brands has positioned itself well within the fast-casual restaurant segment. Noteworthy accomplishments:

  • Expanded digital revenue, now comprising 53% of total sales at Panera Bread
  • Grew its base of loyalty members to 53M
  • Innovated within its loyalty program to produce a fruitful subscription model. Currently, a total of 25% of all Panera Bread transactions come from Unlimited Sip Club members
  • The company also “increased its pace of innovation, strengthened franchisee partnerships and led the creation of a strong, people-first culture, resulting in industry-leading retention rates for GMs and associates,” per a statement
  • It also noted that it earned Black Box Intelligence’s Employer of Choice Award in 2022
  • In fiscal 2022, Panera Brands overall produced more than $4.8B in revenue

As president and chief executive of Einstein Bros., Dueñas led a transformation at the bagel chain. He is credited with building up breakfast and supporting GMs as the most important organizational leaders. Dueñas’s strategy increased unit-level economics, Panera Brands said. Furthermore, Einstein’s margin expanded. While digital channels flourished, the guest experience improved, as well.

Chaudhary added, “I have had the privilege of working closely together with José over the last several years, and I look forward to continuing to work with him to drive long-term value creation as Chairman.”

Before Einstein, Dueñas previously held the position of chief brand officer for Sonic Drive-In. Plus, he held several leadership positions at Darden Restaurants.


“I’m truly honored to have the opportunity to lead the phenomenal group of people at Panera Brands and be part of what is undoubtedly one of the most iconic brands in food,” said Dueñas. “I believe that with this incredibly dedicated team and our great franchisee partners we can continue to deliver a best-in-class guest experience, increase our positive impact in the communities we serve and accelerate key growth-driving initiatives to prepare the Company for a future public listing.”

For more about the publisher of this restaurant news site, navigate here.

Leave a Reply