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Whether you view it as an after school hangout, the place where you pick up your kid’s favorite mac and cheese after practice or just a friendly neighborhood cafe, Panera Bread is an American staple across neighborhoods (and particularly college campuses).
Hey, sidenote! If you’re traveling to the UK or live in the UK, whether for a short period of time or as an expat, why don’t you join my Facebook group where you can ask questions, get advice or just look at pretty pictures of this part of the world! Just click here to request to join and I’ll add you!
I can see why you’re wondering if there’s a Panera Bread in the UK or London, as the sandwiches are really good (turkey one for the win) and the mac and cheese is an awesome way to warm up on a cold afternoon.
I say that like there were ever cold afternoons in Florida, but you know what I mean.
So, here we go, the answer to the question is…
“Is there a Panera Bread in the UK or England or London?”
There is no Panera Bread in the UK, England, or London, though there are some similar options which might go a little ways to help dry your tears.
Before my mouth starts watering too much and I’m fully upset about the fact that there is no Panera Bread here, I wanted to let you know about some of the resources I’ve put together to help visitors and expats in the UK through their journey.
Firstly, no matter your reason for being here, you need the best book on living in the UK for Americans ever written – the book is called “Girl Gone London: An American’s Guide to Surviving Life in the UK” and you should click here and check it out.
I also may have written it, so I’m biased.
But truly, if you’re coming to the UK as an expat, a study abroad student, or even a visitor, my guide to life in the UK contains both personal anecdotes and maybe too-honest experiences, as well as resources and advice on topics ranging from homesickness in the UK (or how not to rage book a flight to America like I did), driving in the UK, being a student in the UK, and more practical advice about bank accounts, buying houses, and more.
It’s truly a one stop shop for all of the weirdness and wonderfulness (is that a word?) that comes along with life in the UK, and also there is plenty of opportunity to laugh at me as I share all of my expat fails so there’s that.
Besides the book, you can check out some of my free resources below, talking about all things culture shock and surviving the busy streets of London.
Even if you’re just visiting for a short while, you’re going to want to read up on tube etiquette (stand on the right!) and let me dash your dreams of driving in the UK as an American (you can, but it’s pretty terrifying).
- Culture Shock: The Things We Don’t Talk About
- An American Girl’s Guide to Surviving the London Underground
- Understanding UK Money: Pence, Not Cents!
- Driving in England as an American: An Apology to UK Drivers
Right, now that you’ve got those articles under your belt, let’s carry on!
History of Panera Bread
Panera Bread was first founded in 1987 and was known as the St. Louis Bread Company.
It didn’t get its Panera name until 1997, inspired by the Spanish word, “panera” meaning breadbasket.
It makes sense, really, as bread is a huge part of what this bakery and cafe sells.
From amazing sourdough bread for the sandwiches to the bakery filled with croissants, bagels, muffins and more, you can enjoy ALL the carbs here.
In addition to the carbs, you can also get fruit smoothies, pastas, soups, flatbreads and salads.
From 1997 to 2017, Panera was the best performing restaurant stock, which shows you how much Americans love and adore this eatery.
Today, Panera Bread has over 2,000 locations across the United States and Canada with over 50,000 workers.
However, Panera Bread has not come to the UK, despite pleas from UK residents who have experienced Panera Bread on their trips to America.
Equivalent to Panera Bread in the UK
There’s nothing QUITE like Panera Bread in the UK – great mac and cheese is hard to find here, for instance.
But there are some cafe options that you can try that will give you the bright and family-friendly feel you’ll find at Panera Bread.
Pret a Manger
Simply known as “Pret,” Pret a Manger is a really popular sandwich chain filled with people at almost all times getting their breakfasts, lunches and dinners.
They sell sandwiches on baguettes, along with salads, chips, baked goods and other hot options.
You’ll find Prets all around London, as well as in over 450 locations worldwide.
They’re often in town centers and act as a place where you could meet a friend for coffee or a bite to eat, though the interior is not usually as large as you would expect of a Panera Bread due to the sheer size of America and the space we have.
Guess what you do at EAT?
It’s not rocket science, but EAT: The Real Food Company is another popular cafe chain with spaces all across London.
They sell both hot and cold options, though I usually go for the chipotle chicken baguette because it tastes like a tiny slice of great Mexican food in a world of really weird British Mexican food.
75 of the 95 locations are in London, but you can find them elsewhere in the UK so keep your eyes peeled if you’re out and about.
Read more in my full guide comparing UK and US stores and restaurants.
Coming to London Soon?
Since you’re here I’m assuming you’re intent on visiting this amazing city soon! A great way to really immerse yourself in UK culture is see the sights with the help of a guided tour. I’ve picked out a few highly recommended ones below!
Tower of London Tour with Crown Jewels: One of the best things about having a Royal family is imagining you’ll be a part of it one day… and what better way than to imagine yourself in their jewels!
Or at least stare dumbfoundedly. Either way, this tour is a sure fire way to get dazzled by London.
Westminster to Greenwich River Thames Cruise: London is built around the River Thames, and one could even say it’s the most important part of the whole city!
As such there’s no better, or relaxing for that matter, way to see the sights than from the view of the river itself! This tour takes you around the city and shows why all Londoners are really still rugged sea voyagers at heart, if maybe just a little more posh now.
Oxford, Stratford, and Cotswolds: Londoners would have you fooled, but there’s more to this beautiful nation than just what remains within the confines of London… shocker I know!
And if picturesque beauty is what you’re looking for I really recommend checking out the quaint and historical towns that scatter the outskirts. If nothing else, this tour will give you a break from commuting by the tube, and we all need that eventually