Au Bon Pain

Au Bon Pain
Industry Fast-casual bakery and café restaurant
Founded 1976 in Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Founder Louis Rapuano
Louis Kane
Area served
United States, India, Thailand
Key people
Susan Morelli, President and CEO
Owner LNK Partners and management
Au Bon Pain at Siam Square in Siam, Bangkok

Au Bon Pain (French pronunciation: [o bɔ̃ pɛ̃], meaning "at (or to) the Good Bread"[1]) is an American fast-casual bakery and café chain headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts.[2] In 1977, Louis Rapuano[3] founded Au Bon Pain in Boston's Faneuil Hall.[4] Since its inception, the chain has expanded throughout the United States. Additionally, there are numerous franchise locations internationally in India[5] and Thailand.[6]


Pavailler,[7][8] a French baking equipment manufacturer,[3] established the company as a showcase for its ovens in 1976 at Boston's Faneuil Hall Marketplace. The principals included Rapuano, Pavailler Machinery, and two minor investors. Pavailler contributed baking machinery to the venture. Au Bon Pain sold authentic croissants, pastries, and bread produced by French bakers.

Attorney Dick Bernstein, who had studied in Paris, suggested the name Au Bon Pain, which loosely translated means “place for good bread.” Corporate colors red, white, and blue mirrored the French tricolor. The logo uses the typeface Futura Black, designed by Paul Renner in 1929.

The concept of Au Bon Pain, to place baking equipment in full public view so customers could see and smell the baking, was revolutionary at that time. The first Au Bon Pain bakery, established in Boston’s Fanieul Hall in 1976, became an instant success. Within a short time two additional outlets opened, in Hackensack, New Jersey and in New York’s CitiCorp Building.[9]

Within a few months investors Louis Kane and Arthur Blasberg, who were impressed by the shop in Fanieul Hall, approached us with an offer of financing to expand operations. We thanked Kane and Blasberg but turned down their generous offer. Some time later Pavailler began agitating for dividends to cover an unrelated financial obligation. Au Bon Pain management believed it unwise to disburse profits while the company was still in expansion mode. Mr. Rapuano then approached Mr. Kane to see if he was still interested in purchasing Pavailler’s interest, which he was. In 1978, Louis I. Kane, who was involved with a Columbo Frozen Yogurt franchise located in the mall, paid $1.5 million for Au Bon Pain and set out to sell baked goods instead of ovens.[10] Francois Marin[11] was hired to open and manage the first Au Bon Pain in Boston's Quincy Market by the businessman who owned Au Bon Pain in name only, but didn't have a store opened yet.[4] The deal was consummated in Paris. Up to this time Au Bon Pain's corporate parent company was named Pavco; after the buyout its name was changed to Au Bon Pain Corporation.

Au Bon Pain Headquarters[2]

Croissants, pastries, and bread are very labor intensive, requiring a night of preparation and baking, resulting in a product with a one day shelf life. By 1980, Kane had added two locations, wholesale trade, and over $1 million in sales, but was still unable to make a profit. In 1981, Kane invited Ronald Shaich,[12][13][14] who was managing a Cookie Jar franchise in Boston, to help overhaul Au Bon Pain.[8]

At the point when Au Bon Pain operated 12 stores, Rapuano owned approximately 40% of the company.

In 1984, an Au Bon Pain cafe outside of Boston opened in New York City. In 1991, the company went public as Au Bon Pain Co. Inc. In 1999, Au Bon Pain Co. Inc. sold its Au Bon Pain division to Bruckmann, Rosser, Sherrill & Co., which then sold it to Compass Group in 2000.[15] Following a management buyout in 2005, private equity group LNK Partners acquired a controlling interest in Au Bon Pain in 2008.[16]

In 1991, the company went public as Au Bon Pain Co. Inc. In 1999 Au Bon Pain Co. Inc. (later renamed Panera Bread Company) sold its Au Bon Pain division to Bruckmann, Rosser, Sherrill & Co. Inc., which then sold it to Compass Group in 2000[17]

According to, in 2005, Au Bon Pain management purchased 75 percent of the company while the Compass Group retained the remaining 25 percent. The current President and CEO of Au Bon Pain is Sue Morelli. In 2014, under Morelli's leadership, Au Bon Pain was named one of the top women-led businesses in Massachusetts by the Boston Globe and the Commonwealth Institute (Boston).[18]


Au Bon Pain Harvard Square

As of 2014, there were 243 cafés in the United States, including 135 company-owned locations and 108 franchise locations, along with many international locations in India and Thailand. Most of the locations in the Northeastern United States, Mid-Atlantic States, and Chicago Metropolitan Area are company-owned, while international locations, such as the locations featured in Macy's and Walmart, are typically franchised. Detroit, Boston, New York City, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Chicago are all home to numerous Au Bon Pain locations. Many Au Bon Pain cafés have been established throughout the United States in numerous airports, train stations, shopping centers, hospitals, urban business districts in cities, and universities.

In addition to retail cafes, Au Bon Pain also runs a catering division which is done mostly out of their main restaurant locations during their off hours.[19]


Au Bon Pain focuses on serving baked goods (focusing on fresh-baked bread, pastries, croissants, and bagels), tea, coffee and espresso beverages, breakfast foods (such as egg sandwiches), and lunch items such as soup, salads, and sandwiches. In recent years, the chain has undergone a brand identity upgrade that has incorporated new colors, design, and imagery. In 2014, Au Bon Pain hired Katherine See as Executive Chef.[20]

In 2015, Au Bon Pain was ranked the healthiest United States chain restaurant by Grellin Grade.[21] Au Bon Pain has also been recognized by Eat This, Not That for "an unrivaled standard of nutritional transparency".[22]

Au Bon Pain wordmark

See also


  1. KING, CHRISTINA B (1992-06-24). "AU BON PAIN Trademark of Au Bon Pain Co., Inc. - Registration Number 1757444 - Serial Number 74287859". Justia Trademarks. Retrieved 2013-10-14.
  2. 1 2 "Directions to the Au Bon Pain Corporate Support Center". Au Bon Pain. Archived from the original on 2007-10-09. Retrieved 2016-10-16.
  3. 1 2 LEVIN, JAY (February 4, 2014). "Ramsey's Louis Rapuano, founder of Au Bon Pain café chain, dies". he became U.S. representative for Pavailler, a French manufacturer of baking ovens. It was Mr. Rapuano's idea to promote Pavailler by opening a demonstration bakery where crusty loaves and buttery croissants would pop out the oven. "He felt the smell and visual of the bread coming out of the oven was very important," his son, David, said. The first bakery was established in 1977 at Boston's Faneuil Hall.
  4. 1 2 KOLNOS, JASON (2004-02-29). "Serving up fun : Francois Marin, retired founder of Au Bon Pain chain turns attention to volleyball league for seniors". Hyannis, MA: cape cod times.
  5. "Au Bon Pain: Find a Cafe: India". Retrieved January 21, 2015.
  6. "Au Bon Pain: Find a Cafe: Thailand". Retrieved January 21, 2015.
  7. Pavailler: Fours de cuisson pour boulangers et pâtissiers
  8. 1 2 Au Bon Pain Co., Inc. -- Company History
  9. CitiCorp Center. New York: New York Magazine. Sep 19, 1977.
  10. Our History - Au Bon Pain
  11. "Page 62". Page 62. Chicago, Illinois: Chicago Tribune. July 23, 1979. Retrieved Sep 21, 2016. Marin helped open the first Au Bon Pain in Boston
  12. Stewart, Brandi (December 7, 2007). "Pastry parlay: From Au Bon Pain to Panera; How Panera Bread founder Ron Shaich sold his first business to build his second.". Small Business : How We Got Started. Fortune. -’
  13. Kowitt, Beth A founder's bold gamble on Panera. July 18, 2012
  14. founder Ron Shaich ’76 to speak at commencement, May 18, 2014 - Clark University
  15. "Panera Bread " Company Overview " Our History". Retrieved November 1, 2015.
  16. "Au Bon Pain Acquisition by LNK Partners and Management Closes". pr news wire .com. Retrieved January 21, 2015.
  17. (Source: Panera Bread.)
  18. "2014 Top 100 Women-Led Businesses in Massachusetts". boston globe. Retrieved January 21, 2015.
  19. "Au Bon Pain Catering". Retrieved January 21, 2015.
  20. "Au Bon Pain names new corporate executive chef". Retrieved January 21, 2015.
  21. "Au Bon Pain named healthiest chain restaurant by Grellin". Retrieved January 21, 2015.
  22. "Eat This, Not That: Au Bon Pain". Retrieved January 21, 2015.

External links

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