Panera is testing out a dinner menu

Posted at 1:27 PM, Jun 19, 2019

Panera Bread isn't typically on top of people's minds when it comes to dinner. It wants to change that.

The restaurant chain announced Wednesday it's testing out a new a "dinner-centric menu" that consists of flatbreads, bowls and side dishes.

Panera is best known for its bagels, pastries and sandwiches. But dinner sales range between a quarter and a third of its business, and it hopes that the new menu could help grow that part of the day.

The 10 new menu items are heartier than its lunch fare.

Panera is introducing two new bowls: Teriyaki chicken and broccoli bowl and a pesto chicken bowl. They are both served over a rice and quinoa blend.

The three flatbreads are steak and blue cheese, chipotle chicken and bacon and margherita. It's also adding three new sides: parmesan broccoli, a tomato basil and cucumber mix and sweet mashed potato.

Lastly, it's adding two new hot sandwiches: A toasted pastrami and a toasted Tuscan grilled chicken.

The new menu will be tested in some locations in Lexington, Kentucky, in July before being expanded to Providence, Rhode Island, in September. The items will be sold from 4:30 pm until the restaurant closes.

Panera's expansion into dinner comes after it beefed up its morning offerings . Panera added breakfast wraps, cold brew coffee and updated its hot coffee stations with new equipment to improve quality in April.

If Panera can get people to come in (or order out) throughout the day, "volume, and the growth, and all that follows," Dan Wegiel, the company's chief growth and strategy officer, previously told CNN Business.