Panera (NASDAQ:PNRA) has had a hard go if it lately, but its June same-store-sales figures might suggest that better days are ahead. But should investors fill up on bread now, or wait and see what the main course has to offer?  

The bakery and cafe company said same-store sales in June rose by 2.3%, which included a 2.4% increase in franchise-operated stores' comps and a 2.1% increase in same-store sales generated by company-owned bakeries. Total sales increased an impressive 28% to $253 million.

That may be a bit better than investors might have expected, given Panera's recent tough times, but there's still a lot to digest. It's best not to forget that Panera recently slashed its second-quarter guidance. It faces tough competition -- you could consider everybody from Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) and Cosi (NASDAQ:COSI) to McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) and Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE:CMG) (NYSE:CMG-B) competitors for at least one part of any given day.

On the other hand, there are many things I like about Panera. Zagat recently ranked Panera a top chain. Panera's fresh-baked-bread angle is nice, as is its emphasis on what many consumers would consider healthier options, such as antibiotic-free chicken and organic, all-natural menu items. There's also the gesture of goodwill that many consumers like to hear about these days -- at the end of each day, Panera donates unsold baked goods to organizations for the needy.

Of course, when mulling Panera as an investment idea, a forward P/E ratio of 20 doesn't exactly sound cheap, considering the continued uncertainty and the recent cut to second-quarter guidance. Although there are things I find tantalizing about Panera, it seems prudent to wait for additional information about its progress when it provides its second-quarter earnings data.  

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Starbucks is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Chipotle Mexican Grill's A shares have been recommended by Motley Fool Rule Breakers and its B shares by Motley Fool Hidden Gems.

Alyce Lomax owns shares of Starbucks. The Fool has a tasty disclosure policy.