Photo via Media Wraps.

Photo via Media Wraps.

Panera Bread will hire more than 10,000 drivers by the end of 2017 so it can expand delivery service to up to 40% at its cafes nationwide, the St. Louis-based fast casual eatery has announced.

As it expands its Panera Delivery service that was introduced in 2015, the company will also offer a new order tracking system powered by Bringg technology that lets customers know when their food wil arrive.

Panera will offer the in-house drivers daytime hours and competitive wages rather than using a third-party delivery service such as UberEATS, GrubHub, DoorDash, and Postmates, according to Panera. Third party services typically use independent contractors.

"For the first time, Panera Delivery is making it possible for us to hand deliver our great food directly to people where they work and live," said Blaine Hurst, Panera Bread's president. "For us, hiring our own drivers was the only way we could ensure that our delivery guests get the same high quality experience they have come to expect from our bakery cafes."

Panera Delivery will provide lunch and dinner to offices, hospitals, campuses and homes within an eight-minute drive of a Panera bakery cafe. Cafes will generally deliver between the hours of 11 a.m. and 8 p.m., seven days a week, for as little as a $5 menu purchase plus a $3 delivery fee in most locations.

Panera didn't say whether they would be purchasing a fleet of delivery vehicles or hiring a fleet manager. A request from to a company spokesperson wasn't retured by press time.