Panera has grown into a $1.82 billion company with 1,541 cafes in the U.S. and Canada since Ron Shaich bought the concept in 1993 for $24 million. Panera hit on the right mix of food, people and atmosphere on its path to success, but the company can't ever rest on its laurels, he says. "Given the frequent failures of restaurant companies, even those once at the top of the industry, a healthy paranoia pervades Panera’s halls."

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