ST. LOUIS — Panera is returning to the public markets after four years in private hands.
St. Louis-based Panera Brands — which also owns Caribou Coffee and Einstein Bros. Bagels — filed initial paperwork Tuesday for an initial public offering of stock. It did not give a date or say how many shares will be offered.
Also Tuesday, restaurateur Danny Meyer, who developed the Shake Shack brand, said he will invest directly in Panera Brands at the time of the IPO and will become a lead independent director at the company once the stock offering is complete.
Meyer is the CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, which owns Gramercy Tavern and 16 other New York restaurants. Union Square Hospitality Group’s SPAC __ or special purpose acquisition company __ will also invest in Panera Brands, Meyer said.
Panera Bread was founded as the St. Louis Bread Co. in 1987 in Kirkwood, Missouri. The company was acquired by fellow bakery brand Au Bon Pain in 1993.
In 2017, Luxembourg-based JAB Holdings Co. bought Panera Bread for $7 billion, taking it private and adding it to a stable of brands that include Krispy Kreme and Keurig Green Mountain Coffee. JAB will remain Panera’s primary shareholder.
Panera Brands CEO Niren Chaudhary said the company wanted to partner with Meyer because of his successful track record and his focus on hospitality and culture. Panera, which now has 2,300 locations in the U.S. and Canada, is hoping to expand globally, Chaudhary said.