With returns up in 2008, a balance sheet with no debt and a strong cash flow, something many companies can't brag about in this market, "this is an opportunity," the CEO said.
Panera plans to take market share by offering higher-quality food that consumers are willing to pay up for even thought their wallets are lighter than normal. And on a list of discretionary items that have to go when the economy is bad, a visit to Panera is close to the bottom, Shaich said, so "we'll come out of it stronger."
The situation at Panera seems to be so good that fourth-quarter guidance for earnings per share is up 50%, according the Shaich, "and we fully intend to hit it."
Cramer's bullish on Panera Bread. He said that aside of McDonald's, this is the only restaurant chain that's working right now.
Watch the video for more on Panera's franchise business and what the company plans to do with all its cash.
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