Panera Bread is being bought for $7.5 billion by the company that owns Caribou Coffee.
It was announced on Wednesday that the bakery-cafe chain will be acquired by JAB, a Luxembourg-based, privately-held holding group that owns several coffee companies including Keurig, Peet's Coffee and Espresso House. It also owns baked goods company Krispy Creme and fashion firm Jimmy Choo.
The acquisition of Panera is the second largest restaurant deal ever in North America, behind the $12 billion merger of Canadian donut chain Tim Horton's and Burger King owner Restaurant Group International in 2014, according to CNBC's Carl Quintanilla.
Starting off as a 400-square-foot store in Boston just over 35 years ago, Panera has grown to be one of the strongest brands in the U.S., with more than 2,000 stores, $5 billion in sales, and more than 100,000 employees.
Financial analyst Dennis Geiger told USA Today that Panera Bread has proven successful through a combination of "trendy menu, quality products and leadership" as well as "staying ahead of the technological curve" by being an early adopter of digital ordering.
He suggests that JAB might look to expand Panera-branded products that can be sold in other retail stores.
Caribou Coffee, which got its start in Edina, Minnesota, in 1992, was the second largest coffee chain in the U.S. when it was bought out by JAB in 2012 for $340 million, as reported by the Business Journal.