Panera to hire 10,000 for delivery service

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Panera Bread will add 10,000 jobs to its delivery service, which it plans to have at 35% to 40% of its locations by the end of 2017, the chain said Monday.

The positions will be in-store and driving roles.

Panera Delivery began in 2015. With the new digital and mobile ordering, customers may request food from home, work or school within a driving radius of eight minutes between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. seven days a week, according to the company. The order minimum is $5 with a $3 delivery fee in most areas.

Hungry customers also will be able to track their delivery en route; the new technology includes an estimated arrival time, photo of the driver and an alert when he or she is pulling up.

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“In many places across the country, all that’s available for delivery is pizza or Chinese food," said Ron Shaich, Panera founder, chairman and CEO. "We’re closing the gap in delivery alternatives and creating a way for people to have more options for real food delivered to their homes and workplaces.”

On April 5, the Luxembourg-based investment firm JAB, which controls the Krispy Kreme chain and coffee brands Keurig, Peet's and Caribou, announced that it was buying Panera for $7 billion and taking it private.

Experts say a strong digital platform is part of Panera's appeal.

As of February, delivery was available in 15% of its restaurants, the chain reported.

Panera has an estimated 2,000 locations in the United States and Canada.