06 May 2019

Are You Ready for Veggie Fast-Casual?

Panera founder is looking for healthy profits from his next act


Photo by Kate Weiser/Life Alive

The founder and former CEO of Panera Bread has a new lease on life. Life Alive, that is. And it’s not a lease—he’s the owner.

Ron Shaich (MBA 1978), has tapped his $300 million fund, Act III Holdings, to buy and reimagine a mini-chain of Boston-area casual vegetarian restaurants into a concept that he believes has potential to scale nationally. Since selling Panera in 2017, he’s also invested in three other health-conscious cafes based around Boston. Life Alive offers vegetable-filled grain bowls, broth and smoothie bowls, CBD coffee, algae lattes, and freshly pressed juices.

“Plant-forward is powerful,” Shaich told the Boston Globe. “Forty percent of America will tell you in a survey that they’re trying to eat more plants.” It’s a trend Shaich followed himself as he hit age 60. “I hired a trainer and ended up becoming much more vegetarian personally.”

That’s how he discovered the Life Alive shops in three Boston suburbs, and over time he befriended and then bought out the owner, who had been struggling to manage her far-flung eateries. “I had this great run with [Panera],” says Shaich. “What I love as much as anything is figuring out where the world is going and making sure my companies are there when the world arrives into that future.”


Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 1978, Section H
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