Panera Bread Customer Service Rises To The Occasion

Dave sent the following lovenote to Panera Bread after they made a bad situation into a great customer service experience. He writes,

On 8/26/08 I stopped by my local Panera Bread [in Waterloo Iowa] after work to pick up dinner for my wife and I. We’ve always been very pleased with the level of service and quality of food we’ve received from Panera in the past. Last night however was a slightly different experience…

I ordered a pick 2 with the smoked turkey sandwich and a Caesar salad for my wife, and I ordered the chicken and rice soup in a breadbowl for myself. I waited in line while other customers received their tasty orders and I watched (as much as I could, due to your high counters) as the employees assembled our dinners. They called my name and I took my bag and headed home. I live about 4 miles from Panera. I arrived home and started to take our meals out
of the bag only to find that my wife’s salad was mistakenly overlooked.

Frustrated, I called the store and spoke with the manager, I started to explain the situation and before I could get two sentences into the story, the manager asked if I was missing a Caesar salad from my pick two!

She explained that there were two gentlemen in line named Dave and we apparently both ordered Pick 2′s. She then offered to hold $20 in gift certificates at the store for us or mail them out to our house. Our total for the evening was less than $12 and the salad probably accounted for less than a third of that. Its not very often I deal with such great customer service like this. Please be sure to let the manager that evening know she’s doing an EXCELLENT job of keeping her customers happy and coming back to Panera Bread!

Thank you very much!!!

- Dave in Iowa

Radical. See how effective great service can be? This proactive manager transformed a potentially a damaging experience for Dave into a success story turning this customer into a fan. Not only will Dave and his wife return again to Panera, but they probably also tell this out of-the-ordinary story to others.

(Photo: Morton Fox)

Comments

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  1. The_Atomic_Pod says:

    This is definitely an above and beyond situation since it really was a simple mix up. Good on Panera for not letting this escalate any higher.

  2. kirbypuckett says:

    It’s nice that Pantera did that for you.

    However, why wouldn’t you check your bag before leaving? Especially considering your distance from the restaurant?

    • Consumerist-Moderator-Roz says:

      @kirbypuckett: Let’s not start up with blaming the victim, please. The comment code’s still on the first page; please read it.

      • That-Dude says:

        @Consumerist-Moderator-Roz: Roz before you get all high and mighty, Kirby was clearly talking about “Pantera “.

        And as I know, you never leave a meeting with Pantera without checking you packages first . . .

      • kirbypuckett says:

        @Consumerist-Moderator-Roz:

        I wasn’t “blaming” the victim, I was just asking a simple question.

        I thought it would be common sense to check an order before leaving a restaurant, store, etc… I do it every time to avoid situations like that.

        • picardia says:

          @kirbypuckett: It would be a good idea, but you could also easily imagine many situations in which you might not have time/chance to check the bag. (I.e., you came in with your small child, which is now getting super-cranky and on the verge of starting to screech, so you are getting the hell out of Dodge before you ruin everyone else’s day AND have an enraged three-year-old keeping at least one of your arms really busy.) So it’s not the answer to everything.

      • parliboy says:

        @Consumerist-Moderator-Roz: Taking Kirby’s side on this one. From the comment code:

        Please, suggest alternate courses of action, or add important information that might help others or that we missed.

        Noone’s questioning that this was Panera’s mistake (and that they responded very well to it). Just that there were things that the victim might have done that could have caught this.

        And Roz, as an honest question (and not an attack), are you saying you wouldn’t check your bag in that situation?

      • PinkBox says:

        My local Panera Bread unfortunately forgets items all the time when I make a carry out order. Because of this, I ALWAYS check before leaving.

        I wish the one I went to would have issued me $20 gift certificates each time!

        @Consumerist-Moderator-Roz: I agree with the others… I don’t think he was trying to attack anyone. :/

    • erratapage says:

      @kirbypuckett: Seems to me that’s a legitimate question to which the answer is: Panera is usually so awesome that we don’t contemplate mix-ups!

      I’m glad Panera’s customer service exceeded expectations, because it’s one of my favorite places.

  3. Imakeholesinu says:

    That’s a great story. I like Panera bread’s here in STL. A little on the expensive side but still well worth it.

  4. JN2 says:

    Panera has consistently had above average service in my experiences. I’m often in their stores very early on my commute and even before 6:30 am, I always have a pleasant stop.

    Good job Panera!

    (now, back to the consumer horror stories, I want OUTRAGE!! :D )

  5. mariospants says:

    I’ve been hit so many times by incorrect orders that it’s expected. Even when I double-check, my wife invariably finds that something is missing or messed up (I just count the wrappers in the bag). If other restaurants did what Panera here just did, I’d order more large orders more often. Pay attention, competitors!

  6. APFPilot says:

    Ever since they gave me a hard time about taking tomatoes off a sandwhich I have’t like panera. That and they ditched the crispani’s

  7. sarabadara says:

    I woulda signed the note “Love, sarabadara.” Just to see if anyone noticed.

  8. sjaguar says:

    I can’t comment too much about their service. But, at work, we often have lunch brought in from Panera when we are hosting customers. I just love their sandwiches and cookies. Mmmm…. Cookies..

  9. bria says:

    My parents had an awful night at Panera once: took forever to get their food, when they finally got it the order was wrong, rude staff, the whole deal. My dad sent an email to their customer service and he mailed him coupons totalling 16 dollars (over the cost of both meals) and everyone was happy!

  10. Jabberkaty says:

    This is nice. I love nice stories!

    Reminds me of when I bought munchkins at Dunkins for the staff meeting, paid for 50 got 25. I called and they gave me another 50 for free – I didn’t ask or anything – and when I said I only needed another 25, he said it was for “the hassle.” Too nice!

    Way to go Panera Bread!

  11. Fly Girl says:

    Hooray, Panera Bread. A+++ WOULD DO BUSINESS AGAIN

  12. Panera is always a great experience for me too, glad to hear more good stories from them. You can’t pay for this type of good exposure, I hope more comapnies try though! :)

  13. canuckistani says:

    service at Panera is miles ahead of the competition. Not to mention the food is great as well

  14. gaberussell says:

    I’ve had two other good experiences at Panera.

    I once ordered their Orchard Harvest salad, which includes pears, dried cherries, pecans, gorgonzola, and greens. When I got the salad, it was just greens and cheese. They said they were out of the other ingredients. I filled out the comment form on their web site and received an apology and a $10 gift certificate.

    Since then, the service has gotten a lot better. A few months ago, I ordered the corn chowder, which had the “vegetarian” insignia next to it. I noticed large chunks of bacon in it, and they realized that they’d combined the corn chowder with the potato soup, which had bacon. The manager apologized and brought a fresh bowl of chowder to our table, along with a free cookie.

    Always a good resolution and friendly staff.

  15. SkokieGuy says:

    I live in a town of about 65,000. We have one Panera at the North end of our town in a shopping center.

    Our downtown area is vastly underseved by restaurants, and there is a corner vacant location that would be perfect. In a two block radius is a large office building, two banks, city hall and a library. Tremendous market potential for a casual dining place like Panera.

    I contacted their customer service line to suggest that this could be a possible new location for expansion. The response: We have people who do this. We don’t need your help or suggestions.

    Although I love their food, it was a real turn off when they dismissed a loyal customer so condescendingly.

  16. Skankingmike says:

    When NJ first got Panera bread I liked them, for a quick bread bowl of soup or a nice sandwhich (mostly because they were the only thing by my job). But lately I’d say they’ve done nothing but suck. Their quality of product over the years has gone down. Their staff at most locations seems stupid or at least not caring.

    The last time I was in a Panera with my wife we both ordered sandwiches, I got what I always get and she got some sorta panini or hot sandwich. well her sandwich was cold and never heated. I asked the guy why and he kept asking to see my receipt which I got then he looked at it.. and still was asking.. so you want this heated?

    Well yea I ordered a damn hot panini isn’t that what the receipt says.. then i got this response. So you still want it heated? at this point my wife lost it and spoke to the manager informing him that due to incompetence we won’t eat here ever again.

    could be isolated but damn.. a hot sandwich is usually hot.

  17. warf0x0r says:

    I once bought a chicken cesar salad from them and when I got home some of the roman was brown and a little wilted. I called them and told them that I had just bought a salad and they should probably get new lettuce or something. The lady on the phone asked me to hold, I didn’t want to cause I wasn’t going to do anything just throw it out. Turns out she got the manager and when I explained the situation the manager told me to come in and get another one. I said that I wasn’t looking for anything just wanted them to know, why I have no idea, and that I didn’t want to drive all the way back. The manager then asked me when I bought the salad and I gave them the time off of the receipt. The next day I checked my bank account online and they refunded my entire purchase. I had also purchased bagels, which were perfectly good, and they gave me those for free basically. That was way beyond what they needed to do. I’m sure they could have just refunded the salad. They definitely secured a customer.

  18. Cupajo says:

    Frankly, because of my addiction to Cinnamon Crunch bagels, their clerks could greet me with a “what the fuck do you want”, and I would keep coming back.

    (Not that that has ever happened, mind you. I’ve always been very please with the level of service at Panera.)

  19. Cupajo says:

    “d”

    That’s the ‘d’ missing out of the parenthetical from my last post. Sorry for the mix-up, but I am not sending you all a twenty dollar gift card.

  20. Johnny_Roastbeef says:

    I love Panera…. in an almost unnatural, stalker kind of way.

    I eat there a few times a week, sometimes twice a day… I think I need a 12 step program.

  21. JeffMc says:

    Wow…I had two bad Panera experiences (wrong orders, rude staff) and stopped going. Maybe I should have complained.

  22. BrianDaBrain says:

    If only all companies were as good at taking care of smaller issues like this before they become big issues. I think I’m going to grab some Panera for lunch today.

    Mmmmmmmmm

  23. HungryMohican says:

    While I do think this is great customer service on Panera’s part, this “automatic solution” can lead to the masking of a chronic problem. There are multiple Panera locations within reasonable driving distance from me (lucky me!). There was one location my partner & I tended to go to more often because of its proximity to some of our favorite shopping. Unfortunately we had numerous bad experiences at that location so we no longer go to that location. Each time we had a problem we very pleasantly brought it to the manager’s attention and every time she apologized (very genuinely) and gave us credit for future free food. Very nice, not even really necessary (but much-appreciated). These problems occurred over the course of about a year. Again, while the apology and credits were nice, we consistently encountered the same problems over & over again (missing items, incorrectly prepared (not matching the receipt)). Their quick response may lead to a failure to address the cause of the failures, leading to repeated identical problems. Again, appreciate the hassle-free gesture, but a follow up to address the cause of the problem would be even better.

    • gaberussell says:

      @HungryMohican:

      I definitely saw a change after submitting my complaint on the web site. I got an email back from a “Customer Service Representative,” who claimed she had forwarded my comments to the district manager.

      If you aren’t seeing results from the local staff, try stepping up the chain of command. At the very least, there are probably more free gift cards in it for you.

  24. genericUserName says:

    I’ve disliked panera when they tried claiming a Burrito was a sandwich and sued the mall. They had an agreement with the mall to be the only sandwich establishment so when the Mexican restaurant opened up in the mall they sued the mall. Ultimately the judge ruled that a Burrito is not a sandwich. This happened about two years ago.

  25. Ninjanice says:

    Panera’s pretty good. Free Wi-fi, decent soups and salads, etc. I only have two issues with them:

    1. They changed the bacon they use. They used always used the pre-cooked kind, but the switched to some very low quality bacon. It looks like raw bacon and is stringy and fatty. Just gross.

    2. While I have no problem with the Panera employees, I find the customers to be incredibly annoying. Maybe it’s the location I go to, but every time I go in there, I get sandwiched between douche bags in line. I usually just order over the phone and pick up at the store because of this.

  26. wary_consumer says:

    I’m glad you had such a positive experience. My experience with Panera in Stafford, VA paralled yours up to and including the manager’s offer of coupons. I opted for the discount coupons to be mailed to me. They never arrived even though I made sure to have the manager repeat my street adress back to me

    For me, the final nail in the coffin was when I called in a dinner order a few days later. When I arrived, I stood in front of the sign that says ‘pick up your call in orders here’ for 5 minutes, ignored even though many employees glanced my way. When I asked the manager about it, I was told that the sign was applicable only during lunch time. “Why leave the sign up after lunch?”, I asked. Blank stare – no apology. Banned!

  27. GrandizerGo says:

    Never heard of the place…
    Need to see if there is one in my area…
    Are they franchised?

  28. aduzik says:

    Hey! I used to live in Cedar Falls (which runs right into Waterloo — think a tiny version of the Twin Cities) and I’ve eaten at that Panera many times. I can attest that they have great service and friendly people. They offered me a free cookie once by way of apology for forgetting to put the dressing on the side of my salad. Well done, Waterloo Panera!

  29. TheWraithL98 says:

    i would sincerely hope they took care of that issue considering it’s their flawed ordering system that caused the problem. filling customer orders based on first name alone is a pretty dangerous tactic, considering how common some people’s names are. My first name isn’t even that common, and I was one of 3 in a 20 person freshman english class I had, and also one of 3 at the 300 person company I work at now.

    They should either call out order numbers from the receipt, or go back to the pager system that some (all?) paneras seem to have abandoned…or expect to deal with issues like this that arise on a semi-regular basis

    • picardia says:

      @TheWraithL98: I always give fake names in stores that ask. My real name is very common, but odds are I’ll be the only “Octavia,” “Vidette” or “Roxanne,” and that my order will come out right accordingly.

    • opal says:

      @TheWraithL98: Heh, I use a “common” name instead of my ethnic first name because then either I have to spell it or the cashier has to think about making up a spelling, which the person behind the food counter then has to make extra effort to read/pronounce.

  30. urban_ninjya says:

    From all the positive comments. I can only assume that they are consistently hiring sound managers and giving them the authority to compensate up to a certain amount without kicking matters up the chain.

    Too often businesses have managers who really have no more authority than a glorified supervisor. Then everything needs to get kicked up the chain to get resolved. This leads to the manager usually screwing over the customer to avoid looking bad to his superiors.

    I love Panera. They also donate all their leftover bread for the day to the local homeless shelters. Too bad the rising food costs is causing them to trim their menus down a bit and hurting their profits.

  31. bilge says:

    If their CS is so good, I’ll email them about f’ing up the St. Louis Bread Company and see what happens.

  32. Berz says:

    Love Panera, there is about 3 within a 15 mi radius of me and each one has great customer service and is friendly even at 7am.

  33. algormortis says:

    i like them for breakfast or a place to stretch out in the afternoon with coffee and a pastry.

    the sandwiches and salads are overpriced, but when i am amidst nowhere in some odd town, and there’s no Jason’s Deli or local delight i like, i’ll usually go for a pick two. it’s a known quantity.

    the last time my order got screwed up they gave me a $10 gift certificate so i could get a free sandwich the next time, as i soldiered on stewing and ate mine. when the manager was working the room, he idly asked if i’d gotten the wrong sandwich when he looked at the receipt. i figured out that the jerk who’d been yelling got mine, and i got his.

    needless to say they know how to keep us happy. said manager also comped me a mugf of coffee and a cookie. i gladly passed up the food chain how much he rocked.

  34. I love my local Panera!

    I frequent Panera at least 2 times per week. One day I left my cell phone on the table. I came back 10 minutes later, hoping some Good Samaritan had turned it in or something. The manager immediately went to review the security camera. Turned out, an employee had pocketed my phone! Panera bent over backwards to help: they wrote a letter to my cell phone carrier to verify that the phone had actually been stolen (thankfully, I had insurance), they fired the employee, and gave me a gift card for $50!

  35. JayCor says:

    I despise Panera — even though they have yummy Cinnamon bagels and Cheese bagels.

    I mean, come on! Three dollars for a bagel and cream cheese, and they don’t even spread the cream cheese for you?!? (They give you a tub of cream cheese you have to deal with yourself).

    Panera, you fail. Gimme Dunkin Donuts anyday.

  36. Boulderite says:

    At first I wasn’t a fan of Panera, but now I like them.
    The one closest to me is about 2 years old and they have great service.
    I really like their soups and their breakfast sandwiches. I even tried their kids meal grilled cheese and it was yummy!
    I am glad to hear that they handled the customers mixup quickly and efficently.

  37. audiochick says:

    I love Panera, too. I usually get their “Soup-for-a-group” because it feeds me and my roommate for two meals. The last two times I stopped on my way home from work though, they were out of the baguettes that come with the soup. Since it was only 6:30 and they are open until 8pm, I don’t know why they wouldn’t make more when they saw that they were running low, considering that 6:30 is still during the dinner rush.

  38. btdown says:

    I have boycotted Panera for three years and will continue to do so forever. If they want to impress me with their customer service, put the damn cream cheese on the bagel when I order it. Dont just throw a tub of cream cheese in the bag then not even include a knife to spread it with, or even give me a clue that you’re not putting it on the bagel LIKE EVERY REAL BAGEL SHOP in existence! When someone orders a bagel with cream cheese, I think it’s a reasonable god damn expectation that the cream cheese would actually be PUT ON THE BAGEL. First time this happened, I was like, ok..everyone screws up. Second time, I watched them throw the bagel and tub of cream cheese in there. I asked them nicely like 3 times to put the cream cheese ON the bagel, but would only do so after I INSISTED, and said I would not accept it othwerwise. I mean whats the point of me going in there for a bagel of convenience, when I’m doing half the work. Why don’t I just jump back behind the counter and toast it up myself, too.

    I never miss an opportunity to bash Panera because of this, and I’m proud to say I had them removed from our companies list of approved caterers.

    For the record, I’m a normal, pretty low-key kinda guy, and as I read this, I realize I look like a raving lunatic. But some things just tweak me out, and this is up near the top.

    • FangDoc says:

      @btdown: See, that’s one of the reasons why I like Panera: that they don’t put the inch-thick nasty schmear of cream cheese on the bagel, that I then have to scrape off to bring it down to an edible level. I prefer the bagel to be the main course and the cream cheese to be a condiment, a ratio that most bagel places seem to invert (I’m looking at YOU, Big Apple Bagel!)

    • macinjosh says:

      @btdown: “Every real bagel shop” would probably charge you another dollar (or something extra, I’m not sure of the amount) for that labor-intensive service.

    • StankGunner says:

      @btdown: I really do think thats a bit unnecessary. Now you may be ordering one Bagel and want your cream cheese put on it, but what about all those people that come in and want a box full of bagels, they don’t staff enough people to give them time to put spread on all of those different bagels. They would need to have a complete line set up just for putting spread on bagels! When I worked at Panera if we had enough staff we would have someone back up the bakery, but even then they really only had the time to throw the bagels in the cutter and the toaster, throw it on a plate or a bag, and grab whatever spread they wanted. I really don’t think that them not having time to cater to your every whim means you should start a personal vendetta.

    • @btdown: Do you want them to pre-chew the bagel for you, too?

    • BrianDaBrain says:

      @btdown: I have never actually been to a bagel shop that spreads cream cheese on my bagel for me, Panera or otherwise (perhaps that’s just an eastern US thing). I actually prefer to put it on myself, so I make sure I get a good amount of cream cheese, as opposed to some inch-thick slop.

      I do understand that some people, such as yourself, like having cream cheese pre-applied. That being said, I don’t understand why it’s THAT big of a deal to take an extra 30 seconds in the store and put it on yourself. But… that’s just me.

  39. Teh1337Pirat3 says:

    Am I the only one who would have just eaten and not really cared the salad was missing? Good for the restraunt for making things right but I don’t think a missing salad is enough to get frustrated over.

  40. Paladin_11 says:

    I used to love Panera for a number of reasons. But then they instituted a seriously draconian pr0n filter on their free wi-fi. Now I eat there less often, but I still go. When you eat alone surfing the web is often your best entertainment.

    Mind you, I’m not going there to view pr0n. It’s just that the filter catches some legitimate web sites too.

  41. BiZarRroBALlmeR says:

    I have not had a bad experience there yet. Shout out to the Beverly, MA one, always a good service and accurate. and what a chocolate cookie they make.

  42. synergy says:

    That really is going above and beyond. I don’t think, though, that I’d be too pissed over being confused with someone else with such a common name. Annoyed because of the inconvenience of probably having to go back to pick up the right items, but the mix-up would be understandable. Now in my case where I don’t have as common a name, I’d be more annoyed. Odds would be that they’d just forget an item than confusing the orders.

  43. Bowildhax says:

    I’m like CupoJo and am addicted to the Asiago Bagels and rolls. One day, I ordered the bagel and cream cheese before the clerk realized they were out an only had the too sweet French Toast bagels. He gave me an entire Asiago baquette, extra cream cheese and sliced it for the same price.

    Because I travel on business I know the good Panera’s vs the ones that are managed poorly. Most are well run, but some are like a zoo at lunch time with folks having meetings there and using the free WiFi, lunching Moms with two baby strollers each and people that just want to sit around eating Asiago bagels.

  44. drjayphd says:

    Oh, the same sort of thing happened to me at the Meriden, CT one. Ordered a pepperoni Crispani for my friend (I wasn’t hungry, but wanted coffee), grabbed a couple of papers, and plopped down to start reading ‘em and wait for my order to come up. Since I didn’t have my watch on me, I didn’t think anything of the wait, until the friend called up.

    It had been over an hour.

    Turns out that the employee empowered with making Crispanis left early, and the cashier didn’t think to tell me that when I ordered. So the manager told me she’d make one and I could have whatever else I wanted, free. Simple concept, people: you screw up, you make it right.

  45. phillies26 says:

    Since I work at a Panera Bread, this article caught my attention. Although I wouldn’t say my current managers are as generous as some other Panera Bread’s, I’ve witnessed previous managers I’ve worked with there do some similar things. For example one day an elderly man walked in wearing a Navy hat and the manager working that day used to be in the Navy so he gave him his meal for free.

    I will admit that the food is overpriced, and I do feel bad charging people $11 for a salad and a drink, but some of the ingredients we use are fairly high quality (feta/gorgonzola/asiago parm cheese, for instance, go for about $75 per bag that we order…)

  46. internomics says:

    I don’t eat at Panera for the reason that their sandwiches are of poor quality, and their “sides” are cruddy enough to make those meager sandwiches appear good. A small piece of stale bread or a tasteless apple to go along with a mediocre sandwich? Spare me the justification of the cost with a crappy side, and give me a sandwich worth its price!

  47. loueloui says:

    I’ve mostly found local Panera management to very competent and helpful. Some have even gone above, and beyond the typical customer service in my opinion. The exception in my case is a rogue location which is unfortunately the closest to my home.

    I know that it’s not me since I see other people complaining all the time when I vist. I have been shorted ingredients, eaten from dirty silverware, suffered rude comments from their staff, and they often run out of common items.

    I have complained more than once to their customer service department, and have not had even a form letter acknowledgement.

    Hey Panera, as good as your stores are, your customer service is terrible. Maybe you need a customer service for your customer service?

  48. Jeri Dansky says:

    I’m another Panera fan – their free WiFi was a godsend to me on a recent trip to Florida.

  49. btdown says:

    @Stankgunner: I’m with you on the dozen bagels….I dont think anyone expects you to schmear a dozen or so bagels. I don’t think it’s an unreasonable request to put the cream cheese on for a guy who gets 1 bagel w/ cream cheese to go, so he can eat in his car on the way to wherever he’s going. As far as my personal vendetta..Their customer service is SO bad, they haven’t even called to find out why they’re no longer on the approved caterer list or getting any of our business. I’ve been waiting for that call for a long time (to unload on them), it seems their sales philosophy is the same as their bagel prep–half assed.

    @TheLoneIguana: No..but the reason people go there is for convenience…Not very convenient if I’m slopping cream cheese on my bagel while driving, when it should have been done in the store. I might as well just make the bagel at home if I’m going to wind up doing half the work anyway…

    I now frequent Einstein Bagels…Bagels are better, and customer service is 10x better than Panera.

    • PinkBox says:

      @btdown: You could try asking them to put the cream cheese on it for you, since it apparently isn’t what their norm is. Couldn’t hurt, and I really doubt they’d say no.

      I’d prefer it coming in a tub, myself. Same way I prefer salad dressing on the side. If I have a long way to travel home, it helps keeps things tasting more fresh.

  50. she-ray says:

    I love Panera. They’re near my work so I see them fairly often. As a vegetarian, I love that they rotate their soups (seasonally?) so I can switch things up now and then. They also give a pickle spear with every sandwich, which I firmly believe should be sandwichshop-standard.

    There aren’t a lot of ‘real’ delis near where I work, and it makes me happy that they throw in a pickle spear, like a ‘real’ deli.

    As a vegetarian, and someone who doesn’t go far from I also love that they occasionally rotate their menu.

  51. she-ray says:

    Oops…didn’t mean to submit yet.

    Everyone is always pleasant. The one thing I don’t like is that they’re expensive, and charge more to swap the chips in the meal for a healthier option like an apple.

  52. mike says:

    Panera is my favorate place to eat! They have free wifi, which they ENCOURAGE you to use and they have great food. I have spent as much as 5 hours (and about $40) in one sitting!

    Kudos to panera!

  53. btdown says:

    @pinkbox = Yep. I have done so in the past after I figured out they didnt want to do it standard. I event went so far as to say, Bagel to go, stressing ‘please put the cream cheese on it’, and still they didnt do it. I had to pretty much refuse to accept it before they would do put it on. I’m originally from the northeast, and I have never encountered a bagel place that didn’t put cream cheese on the bagels before I came to Florida. I can understand if I ordered a dozen, but it should come standard on ‘one to go’, and they shouldnt look at me like I’m crazy when I ask them to put it on there.

  54. mizmoose says:

    I’ve never had a bad experience with their food — but reserving the ‘meeting’ room? I’ve had my reservations (confirmed and reconfirmed) moved out from under me, had them double book (and just go, “Gee, sorry. too bad.”), have had them say, “We’re too busy to do this now” and walk away (and not in a polite, “Geez, I’m really sorry” voice – - it’s not like it was lunch or dinner rush, either).

    On the other hand, the one I used to frequent the most (before I recently moved) would sometimes let a friend and I sit and work (at a regular table) until they were literally locking the doors, because we were quiet and not bothering anyone. Nice folks!

  55. mferrari says:

    I’ve had great experiences with them. Last year, after a storm here in Illinois, we decided to eat at Panera since we were without power. One worker there was so sympathetic for us that she basically was waiting on our table and did everything she could to help us. We were probably their only customers that day but it was still really going above and beyond. (the shitty ComEd service had skipped our block and lit up the rest of the neighborhood, it took a treefall on a nearby circuit for them to remember us despite 3 days of angry calls and running a generator back and forth between our current home and the one we had recently moved out of to keep the basements dry. / angry OT)

  56. LightLeigh says:

    I love Panera! I can rarely afford to eat a full meal there, but for just a coffee and bagel they are cheaper than anywhere else. And their coffee is yummy!

    The people who work there are sometimes young & clueless, but always seem friendly and happy to help. When I have ordered a regular meal, there have been no mistakes, but they seem like they would be happy to fix any problems I might have.

    I always search out a Panera when I am road tripping, because I know I can access the internet with my laptop, and check my e-mail and such while I eat.

    As for the “put the spread on the bagel” debate sparked by btdown – I would guess that for everyone who wants the cream cheese put on the bagel for them, there is at least one person who doesn’t.

    When I am at Einstein bagel, I have to ask for them to “please put it on the side” because I can’t stand to try to clean up the slop of too much crap on my bagel, especially if I will be driving!

  57. Lobescoper says:

    Phooey, I waited an hour for my crispani at Panera once (Apparently twice the machine didn’t work to send the order back to the cooks) and all I got was the meal for free.