Panera has one of the more interesting corporate histories of any company out there, but it’s a little complicated. In 1993, Au Bon Pain (which was founded in 1981 by Ron Shaich) purchased The St. Louis Bread Company, which ran 20 bakery-cafes in the St. Louis area. These shops were so successful that in 1999 Shaich decided to do something drastic: he sold off Au Bon Pain and devoted all his resources to The St. Louis Bread Company, which he renamed Panera Bread. He remains CEO of the company to this day. So yes, Panera was so successful in its early days that its parent company sold itself off to devote all their resources towards it.
Panera is traded publically on NASDAQ, and on the day it went public, June 10, 1991, shares topped out at $13.25, according to Yahoo! Finance. The price of that single share on Feb. 18? $179.37 at its peak. Sigh.
All the bread and baked goods that are left over at the end of the day is donated to local hunger relief agencies, as part of the company’s Day-End Dough-Nation initiative. In 2010, the Panera donated a whopping $100 million worth of unsold bread and baked goods.