Panera Bread: Some History and Commentary (UPDATED)


I have written before that I spend much time at Panera Bread, drinking coffee as I write my dissertation.

Naturally, this is leading to an extensive side research project on Panera itself. PNRA's stock price has not been a stellar performer--peaking in late 2003. Buy ratings have been mixed.

Nevertheless, expansion continues, and the company is looking for managers and assistant managers all over the country. Regions opening for franchise rights include:

� Four Boroughs, New York (excluding Manhattan)
� Santa Barbara/Ventura, California
� San Bernardino/Riverside, California
� San Francisco/Marin, California
� Phoenix, Arizona
� Austin, Texas
� San Antonio, Texas

Many other people agree that Panera is a good place to spend time and money: it has 4 1/2 stars on Epinions:

Panera started as St. Louis Bread , was bought by Au Bon Pain, which renamed St. Louis to Panera outside of the Midwest, then sold Au Bon Pain and other units, and renamed itself Panera. St. Loius' history is here. Got it?

Also, as Glenn Reynolds noted--er, twice--the SonicWall firewall really sucks, and prevents users from accessing even the most educational sites:


More importantly, Panera's internet provider forbids the sending of email to SMTP servers, for "safety" reasons. Whatever. This has led to much grumbling from me and others, to no avail.

However, if you think the free Wi-Fi at Panera is a big deal, just wait until all McDonalds joints have it...

UPDATE 1/8/05: T&B is now the #1 google search hit for "Panera Bread Sucks". See also Tintopia, failing to blog from Reston Town Center a few dozen miles away because Panera's internet connection failed:

This is the problem with �free� goods. That I�m not directly and overtly paying for the service means that Panera doesn�t expend a lot of effort to make sure that I�m satisfied with my non-purchase. On Panera�s regular public website, there appears to be no mention at all � aside from notations in the location-finder � of their wireless network service. I actually approve of this, because they don�t mention that they have air conditioning and electric lighting either, and I think the network in a place like this should be a basic utility.

UPDATE 1/11/05: Melanie Williams looks at what capitalism lets her take for granted:
Actually, I think about just how much we Americans take for granted. I mean really. Panera Bread? Plentiful coffee and overstuffed muffins in a warmly lit atmosphere? What is there to complain about? The most disturbing part of this scenario is when the automatic paper towel dispenser doesn't detect my first wave.
Also, Scott McGerick shows how Panera's employees discriminate against men:
Kat and I are eating at Panera Bread Co, located on the corner of University Ave NE and Hennepin Ave E in NE Minneapolis. A 20-/30-ish guy walks up to the sandwich/soup ordering counter. However, all of the employees for that counter were engaged in a chat session at the other end of the counter. I see that they see the guy, but none of them wants to break away...

A few minutes later, two attractive women walk up to the the vacant soup/sandwich ordering counter. Immediately, a male employee breaks from the power chat to take the order...


Panera is a wonderful place with great pastries, rich coffee, good music, wireless net, etc.. There's only one problem: the bread. That instant puff-up rising technique they use--the bread goes from water and flour to the final baking in under 30 mins, and the first rise takes only a few minutes--just can't compared to the real thing. You can taste it. The bread strikes me as wet and gummy and lacking in anything resembling a genuine home made quality. And yet it probably beats most commercial varieties. In any case, you are certainly right that it is a great place. It came to Auburn and immediately four competing coffee shops installed wi-fi.

I live outside of St. Louis and work for a virtual company, so I spend a lot of time at the St. Louis Bread company as well. And I used to work in Northern Virginia and I spend a lot of time at Panera. Lunch 2-3 times a week.

A couple thoughts:

(1) I have to assume they have management issues. This may sound like a "little" thing, but I applied for a job as their director of marketing and it took them almost six months to send me a postcard saying they had received my resume. It makes you wonder if they run their other departments like HR.

(2) When a Panera's opened a store in Northern Virginia, it was right next to Starbucks, the lines went out the door during lunch. You didn't have a problem getting a table at Starbucks. This begs the question if Panera has a strategy of opening shop next to Starbucks. I've done a lot of research on Starbucks, I admire what they've done. And the reason Starbucks cooks no food on-site is that the branding experience is all about coffee, including the smell. A burnt bagel would harm said experience. Because Starbucks food is average at best (and way to expensive) I have to feel Panera would have an advantage in being next to Starbuck stores.

(3) Where is Panera's advertising? I think a lot of people don't know what Panera's has to offer. My father was over a few weeks ago helping me w/ some stuff around the house. I suggested we grab a sandwich, he suggested Quiznos. I suggested Panera. He was amazed by the quality of the food.

(4) I also don't feel like Panera's has differentited themselves from the competition. Heck, if you can stomach it go to Hardee's. I mean they are actually promoting that they have a "Six Dollar" burger. Lunch at Panera's is about the same price. Which you would rather have? Panera's food is better, their coffee is above average, it is a "cozy" environment, and it is clean. I think they need to tell people this stuff.

Ok, that is all I got. I guess I agree w/ you. He seems the company should have a higher stock price.


The bread at the Duke St., Alexandria VA location is moist not wet... must be something with the water in AL :). My wife's homemade beats it hands down, though.


I don't know about HQ, but my local store had personnel problems--frankly, they employed slow uncaring idiots. But they've just hired a new team (and paid a premium in their labor segment), which shows promise.

I have not seen ANY advertising anywhere for Panera. But all the Paneras near me are jammed between 12 and 2, seven days a week, with literally no room to sit. Paneras in the busiest spots are packed until 3...

I work at a Panera in the Midwest.


I can definately tell you it doesn't take 30 minutes to do. I close a lot, and I've been around when the people who actually bake the breads and pastires come in (and yes, all the breads and pastries are made in the store, every day; along with all the meat being sliced in the back. It takes more than 30 minutes to make bagels, so it definately takes more time to do bread. As a worker, I'm kinda sick of it, but hey, its good and free.

Tommy, I'll respond to your quotes as such:

1. Sorry, that is way up there. I just work at a store.

2. Are you sure Starbucks doesn't cook foods on site? It isn't like they have a huge selection, but I have seen some of the big ovens/heaters there before.

But I see your point. IT is true, Starbucks are often located close to a sandwhich, soup place. Elsewhere in the state, where I see a Starbucks, I see a shop called Atlanta Bread Co. I've never been there, but it looked like a Panera.

3. Panera is just now starting to advertise. We had a full page ad in USA Today...well, at least 6 months ago. It was the back of the front page section.

At our training, we were told Panera just stopped advertising years ago because it wasn't worth it. I'm starting to see some billboards, etc...around my town, but thats about it.

4. BUT Hardees is fast food. Go read Fast Food Nation by Eric Shloser (not sure if I spelled his last name correctly). Basically, the food is shipped there frozen and heated up. That isn't the case at Panera.


At my store (and all the stores the owner of the Franchise runs), we aren't allowed to take breaks from 11-1, because those are our expected busiest hours. However, I've sat in there on Fridays and Saturdays before with practically no one coming. The Monday after Christmas, for example, the place was deserted.

I work at a Panera in Texas.

First off: Panera puts Starbucks to shame in everyway imaginable. Service is faster, taste is richer, aroma is stronger, & quality is all-around superior to that of Starbucks any given day of the week.

Second: Panera has very little use for advertising(in my opinion). This is because "word of mouth" spreads far faster among people than, say, the amount of people who are actually going to develop interest in a bakery-cafe because they may have happened across a billboard on the side of the highway. When people have an enjoyable experience @ Panera, they go out, come back w/ a friend, who in turn brings someone else. Another point I might add is that if a guest is satisfied on their return-visit, they stand the potential chance of becoming "a regular".

Hello. The sourdough bread is allowed to rise for about three hours in a proof box -- warm humid little closet -- then it is baked.

I live in Arkansas and we have two Panera Breads and two Atlanta Breads and one San Francisco Bread on its way. I've dined with Panera a couple of times and I must say service is horrible. Even the managers lack in this department. The food is satisfying-the pastries are good, bagels and deli are okay, and coffees aren't as tasteful as I thought it would be. Its sometimes busy, not like it used to be. I tried Atlanta Bread and its 10x's better than Panera in my opinion. Service is excellent!-the employees/managers greet and thank customers like they meant it. I go there every morning for coffee and breakfast and the employees actually chat with the customers instead of just saying "hi can i help you? thank you". I feel welcomed everyday. And of course, ABC and Panera are almost identical but ABC has a more wide range of deli, desserts, catering (made wonderfully and deliver) and coffee (Panera lacks syrups and skills for specialty drinks) which are delicious. I also see ABC busy everytime I go in the mornings and lunch. Panera has met its match. However, there will be a San Francisco Bread. (A fellow ABC regular customer told me it can't compare) I suggest Atlanta Bread!

I went to a new Panera Bread in Nashville. The atmosphere was ok and the employees were fine. The food was awful. The Asian Chicken Salad was dreadful - romaine kettuce, a few fried wonton strips with some seasoned chicken strips drowned in dressing. The Chicken Noodle Soup was definitely institutional quality, salt was the only flavor detected and they forgot the chicken. I find it hard to believe that this is freshly made food. At best it is prepared in a factory somewhere and packed in plastic bags and shipped "fresh". The local folks open those bags and instant lunch.

OK you guys you had a wonderful salad by the name of Fuji Apple Balsamic Vinegarett salad. It was a huge success and I ate it at least once a week. Tell me how you can quit making this product anymore when it was so popular. I won't be back until you bring back my favorite salad. It is apple season, so what is the deal?

On Wednesday, 11/30/05 at about 6:00pm my son and I attempted to eat at Panera Breads in River Forest, IL. I order two sandwiches requesting cheese; one of the sandwiches was fixed without cheese so I took it back and requested cheese and there was a very rude guy named Bryan who carried 2 small pieces of cheese over to my plate which was soiled with food stains from another order and tossed it onto to my plate and commented "here is your cheese". This was the most rudest thing that has ever happened to me before. I immediately demanded to speak to a manager who assisted me immediately. However the lady who fixed my sandwich originally began to yell at me. This was a nightmare. I was treated like a dog at this Panera Breads. I will never ever eat at this location and will tell others not to eat there too!!! Something should be done about this!!!
I wouldn't treat a dog like this. A fresh sandwich should have been issued, but this didn't happen!!! Nasty, rude staff, over priced cold low quality food is what you will get if you choose to eat at the River Forest, IL location...

I work as an assistant manager at a Panera Bread. All I have to say is that, personally, I don't think the food is all that great. It's bread and lunch meat...that's all. If you drive down to your local supermarket, you can get supplies to make sandwiches like Panera's for a full week for what you'll spend in one day there.

This company is psycho about bread, yet they turn out only 'average' bread. It's alright, but it's BREAD! It's not awe inspiring. The bagels are average, and the rest of their bakery items are overpriced and average as well. The soups? Some of them are alright, but what can go wrong with soup that comes in frozen in a bag?

Basically, this is an overpriced, stuck up cafe/bakery that is more than happy to rob rich customers who are too lazy and dumb to make their own food for much cheaper at home.

That's just my two cents....

I had a horrible Panera bread experience, and won't be going back to that location ever. After finding that the soup had bacon in it, we attempted to get a refund, and the managers, who had at first agreed to refund the $2.00, then proceeded to call the police because we were "being confrontational". They were rude and borderline racist, and it turned me off completely. I even enjoyed the food up til then, but their horrible staff ruined it.

I used to work for Panera in Corporate. While these comments seem to mostly be about food and service, it is quite a shame the general public doesn't see how illegally the company behaves in dealing with their employees. Unfortunately, a great many of the people working in the stores seem to be either to young to know/care what their rights are or too desperate for a job to challenge Panera when they are mistreated.

hi..we have a penara bread in racine wis and i have a complaint and a comment. after eating a delicious tuna sandwich with a salad i decided to take some muffins home. when i got home i discovered the muffins....2 were muffins and 2 were just the tops of muffins which i didnt even know you made. but i was charged for the tops as well as the muffins.. all of the same price. like about 1.89.. something like that. plus they were so dried out...comment.and i can understand why. all of the bakery sits out in the open. no covers or tops on top of them. some of the bakery probobly had been sitting out there for hours. no wonder it is getting stale amd dried out. needless to say i was pretty disappointed because i was planning on a cup of coffee and a muffin when i got home.
other then that the food is very good. it seems like racine has caught on because it has very crowded when i have been ther. used to tho, you had bus people at first to pick up dishes etc. now you do it your self.???
just wanted to let you know of my situation.
thank you

I work as a manager at Panera and I can clear up some things for you. 1) Making bread is a three day process... it is mixed, allowed to rise, portioned, refrigerated, proofed then baked. Definitely time consuming. 2) Why advertise when we lead the nation in restaurants???? We open a new store about every other day... that means we are doing something right. 3) Starbucks has our same desired demographic. Panera would be fine if people went to Starbucks went to get coffee, then came to us for the meal. It does frustrate the crap out of me when someone comes into my cafe with a Starbucks cup... HOW RUDE!!!

Free Wi-Fi is a priveledge, not a right. Our filters are in place to protect our guests. If you feel it is unfair, perhaps you would be better suited to do your office work AT HOME!!!

I had my first panera bread experience today at lunch. When I first walked in the place and took a quick look at the menu I knew I was going to be disapointed but had to hang in there for a co-worker. It seems that all these trendy little places have a wonderful recipe for screwing up a sandwich. I ordered the chicken salad because I figured it would be benign in terms of frilly crap. I caught the fancy spicy musterd on the ingredients and thwarted what would have been a disaster by ordering the sandwich with just lettuce and mayo. I mean there were a million items on this sandwich. So now I'm thinking I'm getting a plain old chicken salad sandwich. How hard is that. After one bite I my fears were confirmed. They put sugar in the chicken salad or perhaps some other exotic sweatener. i mean christ. Just make a normal damn sandwich. It's all the trendy Californian/seattle bot people that want to think this stuff is good. Please stop with putting crap in food and thinking it to die for. No it's to puke for.

the post didn't take my whole comment. Suffice to say they put sugar in the chicken salad and it's nasty. It's just more trendy californian/seattle bot people thinking this stuff is good. Please stop putt frilly stuff on plain food. Artichoke, tomato and egg sandwich...please. I like my food plain and with a cigarette for taste.

Well, you know I work at Panera Bread and I do agree with everyone it's a crappy place, employees really get mistreated... the food on the other hand, you should have just asked for a plain chicken salad sandwich and they would have given it to you and no they didn't put any sweetener in the sandwich unless someone was really trying to mess with you because there is no kind of sweetener on the line. The sandwiches all read the toppings on them on the menu so you should have read.

I went to San Diego - miramar location. Im an outside sales rep eat daily at restaurants.It is obvious there is minimal training -the person at the register (shift leader)asked me so many times is that to go I said no here, I said NO onions she repeated the order w/onions I said no onions. I ordered cinnamon scone she read back ORANGE scone I said no cinnamon she said ok a 1/2 sandwich w/onions/orange scone to go. I said no this all took a good 6 minutes. She never asked what kind of bread I want my turkey sandwich on, it was dry no mayo/mustard (as I requested). Good food bad service. Water had a pink tint obviously the filtered watered isnt clean.

I work at a panera in OK. At mine--most of us are pretty knowledgable about whats on the menu. We rarely get complaints. The only bad thing is our wannabe drink station. Our drinks are boring and they suck

I happened to stumble acrossed this page by accident because I am writing a Business Plan for my management class on Panera Bread. I have to say that I have read a lot of the comments in here, and I'm quite shocked at the different results that are displayed. I, as well as another person who commented on this page, also worked at Panera Bread for about 1 1/2 years and I loved every moment of it. Our management staff was and is still incredible, the food fresh and tasty, and the service is outstanding. I'm not just saying this as an employee, but as well as a repeat customer. I can understand if you have had a few bad experiences, or maybe the specific one you're going to just has poor management, but I think that everyone, even those who didn't like it the first time around, should give it another try. There are several restaurants, cafes, and bakeries that could all use a little more help in the management department, but I must say that very rarely does the Panera Bread I have worked at ever get any complaints. Our store, for about the last two years, has ranked in the top 10% for service, quality of food, satisfied customers, etc out of 696 Panera Bread franchises and for one store, that says alot! So if you've had poor experiences in the past, give it another shot and you may be surprised! Thanks for your time.

Panera in Miramar, Florida treats it's employees terrible, with no respect and not trained properly.

yeh i know this is an old thread but the last comment is very true. Ive worked at my panera bread since the opening (May 2005), and the regulars are always people whos first impression of the store was "amazing". It is hard to convince somone to become a regular if the first imp. isnt great. Likewise if somones first impression was great but the following 2 were not to par, they usually give it another chance. THis is something i have noticed with around 50 customers, all regulars still, since may 2005.

The main reason that the stock price is bad is because Panera has a hard time branding itself. Crispani, their entrance into the dinner daypart, is a sales disaster. They have to give away one for every one they sell. Does anyone remember what happened to Boston Market? Also, they keep improving their breads and pastries, but I can count a half dozen locations closer to my home that have the same or better quality pastries and breads - some of them are supermarkets.

If you are GREEN, it is nice to find organic and antibiotic free range meats, but the companies carbon signature is huge. Rather than make breads in local bakeries, it sends breads in from remote locations - some more than 5 hours drive away - and they do it DAILY. Additionally, the lights are not energy efficient, and there is a ton of them on the bakery and sandwich lines - waste waste.

I'm training at a panera in California right now. They don't even follow their own training manauals and specifications. I'm constantly told to break specifications, cut corners and do what ever it takes to get my trainer out of work as early as possible. It's the best laid out worst administered program I've ever seen with every day of every week laid out in detail and they tell you to ignore it completely...until you have a test. most southern california paneras suck bone and the training program for the section of the bakery I work in is a joke. I work at whittier but even I wouldn't eat that food.

the first time I ever ate at a Panera, I was looking forward to it. The Atlanta Bread Company we had at our mall had closed
and it used to have some pretty good stuff. I had good memories of soup in a bread bowl - one of my favorites. Well, that
did not happen at Panera. I got a big bread bowl alright, but only 4 - 6 oz of soup in it and felt totally ripped off.
I sent an email to the company with my complaint in exact detail and never - after several years have I got a response.
Amazingly I have been back to Panera with some friends that really wanted to go there for lunch. My experience was much
better, I was careful not to order the breadbow of soup and got a sandwich instead. Still, I would summarize that the food
at Panera is overpriced - you can pay the same, get good food and get wait service at some places.

I think Panera Bread is a great company. Although, the closest store is 35 miles from my house. I can not understand why a Panera store has not opened in my time which is a college town. How do you open a Panera Bread store?

More about the WiFi at Panera Bread and its use of SonicWALL censorware to block access to blogs that offer legitimate political speech. See:

Panera Bread articles on 1389 Blog


Stop Blog Censorship! Resource Page on 1389 Blog

Articles about SonicWALL censorship at Panera Bread:

Stop Blog Censorship! Resource Page on 1389 Blog:

I was guided to Panera Bread by a friend who works there. I was planning a lunch for 50 people, something I do at least 3-4 times a month. He suppled me with a Via Panera menu and urged me to call 2-3 days in advance. I decided on the sandwiches as well as some salads that sounded wonderful. So, I call 6 days in advance and speak to the Via Coordinator for the Point Loma Panera, I believe her name was Carol or something like it. I explained what I was planning and told her what food I wanted. She had problems with my selections and abruptly told me that they would not be able to accomodate my order due to the lack of planning on MY part. I told her that I was under the assumption that 24 hours notice was the "norm" for this type of order. She then put me on hold and then when she returned I asked if any Panera would be able to help and she said she did not know. If this is how all Panera Breads employees treat their customers then I do not want anything to do with them. I figured with all the things I had planned to get from them they would have had a $600.00 sale. I guess my order, money and my order of $1800.00-$2400.00 a month just wasn't enough. Thaks for such a GREAT disappointment Carol/Cathy or whatever your name is. I will not try again thanks to you.

I too work for Panera Bread, my area is San Diego. I read everything here. I do aagree with some thing and I also disagree with others. My franchise owners...Manna Development sucks ass. However, I do believe this to be because the owners trust the DM, who inturn trusts his GMs to the point of being ignorant. Associates are treated like subserviants by management. Mainly our GM, she mistreats the other managers as well as the associates.
associates at my cafe work very hard with little to no appreciation. I do not blame the Panera Bread Company or the owners of Manna Development. The problem is they trust people in upper management to be good at their jobs. Our GM is rude to us, degrades us, tells us how stupid we are and when we say we want to speak to the DM we are told he will fire us if we do. We get a lunch break, but no 10 minute breaks on either side. We are scheduled to work 5 hours and take a half hour break. I am fulltime and only got 28 hours this coming week. I love Panera Bread, and all that it stands for. I have tried to transfer to another cafe, but wa told NO by my GM. Why she refuses to answer that question. Someone needs to come into this cafe undercover and see the truth. Because no one believe me or 6-10 other hard working associates...please help us.

Company, Benefits, and Managers

Now, I read Brian's and Panini Pusher's comments and both are dead on correct in what they say. I work at Panera Bread as the Dishwasher for closing currently. When I started working a year ago, I could only work Lunch Rush (which is 10:30am - 3pm). I loved my job back then. The General Manager we had at the time was typically nice and understanding, though I used to think she was pretty mean. That wasn't the case as I got to know her and earn her trust. Either way, I loved my job, and probably wouldn't have traded it for just "any" job. I can't say the same right now in my current situation.

Now, sometime last year back in June (I believe June 5th to be precise), I was fired for an unjust reason of supposedly being a "no show" by the new General Manager at my store. I would explain this story, but it'd just make this post longer. Much longer. At any rate, you can e-mail me if you'd like it. Because chances are, you'll be as disgusted as I am. I do appeal to the company and they said I could have my job back, which I accepted. Big mistake on my part. But in all honesty, I wasn't trying to get my job back. I wanted the people at fault to get what should've come to them; which apparently it didn't.

So I work closing now. And totally hate my job. We lose about 2 people on average a month because they either

A) Don't like the working conditions
B) Can't stand the current General Manager and District Manager
C) Are working so hard for so little pay
D) Can't stand the other associates
E) Didn't have a position anymore because the new General Manager brought her own people
F) Were fired by the new General Manager

Now, I can't say which of the reasons is the cause. But there's at least 1 associate for every cause listed. We have 2 Assistant Managers and 1 of them recently left. He was the kindest, more awesome Manager there ever was. But he recently left for reasons unknown to me. A person who just came out of training has replaced him. So we have a horrible GM and two Assistants who just came out of training. Really sucks over here in Ohio.

What's the GM like? She's generally likable in a social kind of sense. But when it comes to work; she pretty much rules with an iron fist. Ruthless. Won't cut anyone a break. Not to mention the kind of people she hires. Surely there's a nice person inside her. But for the most part, she's nuts. Insane. She'll take anything a higher-up will tell her with a spoon and graciously accept it. Doesn't think too often on employees. Says one thing and it's a total contradiction to another thing she's said. Expects too much of people (especially myself. I don't feel like a Dishwasher, but rather a utility coverman of sorts. She's got me doing work that I believe should be everyone's jobs, if not someone else's). Nags as well. Then complains when I'm suffering from EVERYONE ELSE'S idiocy. When'd she get the right to complain and mock me when I'm down and suffering? I'd punch her in the throat, but I'm a bigger man than that. Moving along~

District Manager. We used to have this generally preppy/nice lady (who was the person who fought to give me a job again). She got transferred. Now we have a midget who I can't entirely form a real opinion of. I do have some facts, though. He made it so the associates at my cafe have to drink out of little 9oz tiny-dinky clear cups when they need a drink. Not just that, but they have to drink it all (in the front of the cafe) before getting back to work. Same for coffee. They have to drink it all out of the smallest cup we have out in the front of the cafe. No, can't drink and work to achieve optimal wok being done. We have to have a "clean environment" which we ALREADY MAINTAIN BECAUSE WE CLOSE THE CAFE AT NIGHT! I don't normally use caps, but seriously, my head hurt when it was enforced. Thanks District Manager. I hope you like pissing me off.

Not just that, apparently the company makes everyone take the trash out the front door and walk AROUND to the back where the dumpster is. No, we can't use the perfectly nice back door we already have for this purpose. They're afraid someone will break in and take the money in the store. No, they don't fear the associate's well being. Just their precious money. If I took the trash out and ended up dead because of whatever nutcase wanted to get inside, they wouldn't care. They'd be clutching their money tightly and only feel bad a tiny bit that I'm now dead. Maybe I'm exaggerating them being such jerks. But you get my point. It takes a lot more effort to take out the trash and go around. Like it's an additional 2 minutes just walking to the back, then to the front if I'm not running. My head explodes at this.

Even worse, the door is locked at this point. Both front and back doors to be specific. So I'm locked out when I need to get back in. And it's so cold that I'm freezing the hair off the back of my neck just waiting for an associate to notice me; which they hardly EVER do (like once a week someone is there to notice I'm stuck outside). And I don't want to use the back door and ring the doorbell because to unlock it, you have to push the emergency exit. And that's just trouble if you don't turn it off in time. Next topic~


It's not really that good until you keep consuming it. It IS far too pricey. Like Brian said, you could go to the store and get a weeks worth of stuff to make the food with for the price you'll pay for it in one day. Bread is what the company knows well, so at least 80% of the bread is good. The other 20% of bread is something ridiculous that anyone who's in reality would never buy unless they were desperate or curious. Banana... Pecan. Why would you put those together in a bagel? Terrible. At least it's a bagel, so you could put cream cheese on it and change it entirely anyway. Bagel is 99 cents.

Bagel and a little tiny spread is $2.49. Now, this tiny spread is enough for one bagel, no mistake. It's enough for 2 bagels actually when used in moderation. But seriously $1.50? Horrible. It's good for 1 bagel people, but I doubt many people know how to even use the spread in moderation, so they use it all up and it's easily not enough; at least for $1.50. Honestly that much money should get me two spreads, in my opinion.

Either way, bread is what the cafe knows best. Sandwiches? Most of the stuff is terrible to begin with. You may need to broaden your taste before trying to eat the kind of sandwiches we make. On that note, let me tell you that Matt is kind of wrong with the frozen meat thing. In fact, forget I said that. He's entirely wrong when it comes to my cafe. The food is shipped frozen and needs to be thawed like most everything else in the cafe. But in all honesty, I expect that to be natural for places that serve food to the public. Now, when we thaw our stuff, it's usually a day ahead of time. It's not all the meat, but we do have things like turkey, which come frozen. Our food is fresh in the sense that we make it when you order it. That's it. Just to clear up any kind of confusion in that department.

Sandwiches cost loads of money as explained earlier. Soups come frozen and in plastic bags. Sometimes they're deformed with their shape (such as looking like a chair when you open the box they come in). We put them in a thermalizer to heat them up, and in the process, the bags sometimes break or have holes in them. I can't say this is the same thing for the other Panera cafes, but it sure does apply to mine. And guess who has to clean up the mess? That's right; me. And only me. So the point there is that our soups do come in poorly made plastic bags; that or they're shipped quite poorly. They aren't even that different from soups you could buy in a store for much cheaper.

Most are terrible. However; Loaded Baked Potato has to be the best one we have. Associates and customers alike eat that soup as if they were a cat exposed to some catnip. We used to have Southwestern Corn, which was a good one to have, but we had to switch it for Creamy Tomato; which by the way tastes like tomato sauce from any other brand with maybe a hint of sweetness. But it was a terrible seasonal swap. Point is, soups aren't even worth it. I have a pretty good sense of what tastes good or even extraordinary, and this stuff tastes average, if not bad. I bet there's even a better Loaded Baked Potato soup, but I haven't tasted it yet...

Salads are decent. Fuji Apple is probably our best. It's at least enough to actually come back to. Even moreso when someone puts the wrong kind of chicken in it (in this case, our Lemon Chicken). Sandwiches themselves are half and half (for a good and bad perspective). Paninis are the ones people want. And there's only 2 even worth eating constantly.


My cafe has labor quite bad. I found that hard to swallow because people don't even come to work or at least try to get out of it. I did understand in the sense that they keep calling people in or they keep working some people entire weeks (like myself). I had 76 hours on my last check. A 20 hour jump from when I was re-hired and a 35 hour jump from when I began working. They don't give benefits if I recall correctly. Not for part-time associates at least. Full-time I'm unsure of, but I don't think they get benefits, too. Heck, someone here posted they were full-time and were only working 28 hours a week. That's not even a lot. I wish I were working 28 hours or less sometimes again.

On benefits, they certainly don't give me vacation or the rest of the jazz that'd be benefits and I work a whole bunch now thanks to my horrid GM.

The company is not one I can ever respect anymore. They've taken away many rights, they have people with authority who're jerks. The food isn't even that good as to come back to get more (the only exception is bread). Working conditions seem to vary, but for the most part, it's tedious for some and easier for others. Kind of imbalanced. I'm sure there's more, but I can't even think about it because just thinking about work gets me both angry and depressed. It didn't used to be this way. I used to love going to work before I was fired. Now I hate it nearly every single day I go there. Especially with the General Manager in charge in my cafe.

Just bringing out the FACTS that make Panera a terrible place. Don't get me wrong. Lovely atmosphere if you don't work there. But chances are, you'll end up hating it due to some associate or maybe your favorite item isn't in stock. Or maybe you'll hate eating the food itself and try to stay there without buying anything. Could happen. I know people who do this. Either way, that's a lot of information people either don't consider or didn't even know about. Sorry for the terribly long post. But hey, I work there, and I wish I weren't working there now, but still had a job (preferably at home on my computer) so I could support myself. It's terrible.

This is NOT a joke. Consider the facts, people.

I was amazed to find this blog. Especially when I read Panini Pushers post...I too work for Panera Bread owned by Manna Development. It sounds as if we work at the same one. This cafe is out of control. No ONE person is in charge. People are treated horrible and rules are broken all over the place. The GM comes to work High on pot and smells like alcohol most days she works. At one point She was having a personal relationship with an associate most likely sexual. I mentioned reporting this and was warned not to. Since her sister is the DTS(district training specialist) is here sister and nothing would wever be done. One of the managers recently relocated about 50 miles away from our Bakery. We have been told from the beginning there was an opened door policy. She emailed the DM about her move and requested if there were opening to transfer. She was berated and threatened by the GM being told She was out of line and would NOT be transferred. Itsucks and Manna should be ashamed. Its a cristian owned company. ellis we need salvation.

This is unbelieveable!!! I see 2 posts that sound like the Panera I work at in San Diego,Ca too. It all is true from my experience as well. The GM is flighty at best!!! The worst this is one of the ORIGINAL team left because of the situation with the drugs. He was a great person and was VERY dedicated to our cafe. In the time since we opened I personally heard at least 4 different people offer him jobs. Each time he said no thank you. Guests were constantly praising him and since he left the questions haven't stopped. Finally, after reporting the GM to the DM he could do nothing else but resign. The GM was rude to him, cut his hours to almost nothing. There is a Panera Ethics number for corporate and I plea with anyone reading this to call it and demand justice for the associates in Pt Loma San Diego,Ca Panera Bread Cafe 4289 call NOW!!! When did drugs, unprofessionalism and nepotism become the in thing to do. When was it alright for someone to be retaliated against for having ethics, morals and being 100% committed to a company!!???
1-888-840-4151 your call can be completely confidential no names, sex or age asked...they give you a case number and you can call to check on the progress. Lets show them they cannot bully us, mistreated us and get away with it!!!! Lets ban together bring one GM down!!!! One example of what associates CAN do when They ban together is needed!!!

I am an employee at a Panera in the Northwest. I must admit that the company is better than most, but it still blows. I realize in order to make such a bold statement one must back it up so here's a few reasons why I feel the way i do.. 1. The food is horrible for you,the company pretends that it is good for you but just take a look in the Nutritional guidebook, that's why we keep it behind the counter, no one wants you to read it. 2. NO CHRISTMAS bonus. 3. FLARE must be worn. 4. Make shift managers, no exp. necessary. 5. SHEEP- customers and employees alike. 6. BREAD is stale after one day. 7.00$ a loaf, it should stay fresh for at least a couple days. 8.Claims there are no preservatives...lies, word play.
I believe I said enough, I'm out of this company soon!

I've read a lot of negative comments here, but I love Panera Bread. I live in Birmingham, Alabama, and a store was opened near the Galleria mall (Patton Creek) several years back. The customer service is always pretty good, and the food is outstanding. I love their bagels, desserts and especially their artichoke turkey sandwich. I've never had a problem with Panera, and we love it so much that when my relatives or friends come to time, my husband and I will take them there to eat. I guess each store is different, but the Birmingham, Alabama PB runs just fine. We also give their gift certificates for Christmas presents.

Just three days ago I thought about buying Panera Bread stocks because of a trusted recommendation. Today I would rather short sell this stock.
Panera Bread has huge managment issues. The last four times I ordered food at the Dr. Phillips location they served it wrong. The counter personal seems very untrained - they make a lot of mistakes.
Last night I ordered a regular salad with sauce on the side (I repeated this specification twice because I know already how they usually get orders wrong). I received my salad soaked in sauce and had it returned. After eating some bites of the new salad I saw black stuff on the salad leafs which looked like tar. It turned out to be really nasty dirt. After inspecting the salad more closely I saw rotten salad leaves. And I mean: rotten, slimy, black salad leaves.
I went to the manager, asking for my money back and all he could say was "This is not good. I am sorry. Here is your money back".
Franchise companies are sucesful because of their great systems - and this company does not have them in place. Employees don't know what they are doing, there seems to be no leadership.
How can I actually trust them to sell me food? Who knows what is lurking beneath? Food safety, everyone?

I love Panera Bread. I will admit i am not an employee so i dont have to put up with a-hole customes which probably sours ones view of the place but regardless the Panera in Gaines Kentwood Michigan is not bad minus the fact that the building designers placed vent shafts on the ceiling that keeps every square inch of the dining room showered in cold blowing air. ITS FREEZING COLD!!!!! One either has to wear winter clothing or just go to another resturant that is not freezing. They either wanted to keep the air fresh, or prevent people from sitting for more than 10 minutes which keeps the dining room nice and empty for the money walking through the door.

I love Panera Bread. I will admit i am not an employee so i dont have to put up with a-hole customes which probably sours ones view of the place but regardless the Panera in Gaines Kentwood Michigan is not bad minus the fact that the building designers placed vent shafts on the ceiling that keeps every square inch of the dining room showered in cold blowing air. ITS FREEZING COLD!!!!! One either has to wear winter clothing or just go to another resturant that is not freezing. They either wanted to keep the air fresh, or prevent people from sitting for more than 10 minutes which keeps the dining room nice and empty for the money walking through the door.

I love Panera Bread. I will admit i am not an employee so i dont have to put up with a-hole customes which probably sours ones view of the place but regardless the Panera in Gaines Kentwood Michigan is not bad minus the fact that the building designers placed vent shafts on the ceiling that keeps every square inch of the dining room showered in cold blowing air. ITS FREEZING COLD!!!!! One either has to wear winter clothing or just go to another resturant that is not freezing. They either wanted to keep the air fresh, or prevent people from sitting for more than 10 minutes which keeps the dining room nice and empty for the money walking through the door.

Panera in Hallandale Beach, Florida is a wonderful place with great pastries, rich coffee, good music, wireless net, etc.. There's one
Setback from yesterday they hide de Sun Sentinel Newspaper behind the counter… they are afraid somebody will still them…???
I ask one of the employers why the did it And she respond to me with no respect… I believe she was rude and of course not trained properly, nobody inform her I am consuming there and contributing with her salary.
Oh.,.. I forgot (Thanks for lend me the newspaper for one minute).


The Panera manager in Hallandale Beach, Florida order to hide All the News Papers behind the counters…………
He is afraid a customer will STILL one! What a shame…………
Please can Panera Company train him to run a business?


By the way… Thanks for the Free Wi-Fi.

We go to Panera often and are satisfied with the food and service. Their coffee is excellent and always fresh, a hundred times better than Starbuck's coffee. But more than that, we had an amazingly positive experience at our recent visit at the Tyson's Corner (Virginia) Panera. And it was all due to the General Manager, Assane Cisse. I would like to contact the distrcit or someone about this man and his staff.
On Sunday July 13 my family had a meal at the Tyson's Panera. Half hour after we had left, we noticed that my daughter had left her retainer in the tray at the restaurant. This is a very small but expensive object as you know so we had to go back to the restaurant to try to find it even though the chances were very slim. When we asked the waiter and the cashier, they said all the tables had already been cleared and the item had not been found. They said the trash had already been put in the back with tens of other trash bags. We asked if we could take the nearest half empty plastic trash bag lining home with us hoping that the retainer would be in the bag. Both the cashier and the waiter/busboy were evry nice and gave us plastic gloves and tried to help. Just as we were about to take the garbage out, the general manager walked in and asked what was going on. I explained. He immediately ordered the workers to take the bag to the back. Then he told them to inspect all the bags in the back of the restaurant! We certainly did not expect this. This was way above and beyond good customer service which we already had received. This man was so quick to take charge and act, a true sign of a leader. Amazinly enough, 10 minutes later, the worker Najib walked back with the retainer! We were so impressed by this man and his staff. Of course he wouldn't accept money. I asked him what I could do to tell his superiors about him and he told me to go to the website and aanswer the survey question, that's all. While I was waiting for the trash inspection, another customer was there talking to the manager and this man also had very high praises for the manager and all the workers. I sure hope someone is paying attention and I also hope , unlike what some people said here, these workers are treated fairly and with respect. They all deserve it.

This message is for Evan- I doubt you will ever read this, but if you do, I just wanted to give you a little advice & i really hope you don't mind. I'm not posting this to be rude or to dismiss what you are saying about your company & management, because I completely believe you and I think you have some legitmate complaints. I've had jobs like this, that started out OK or even great, and then gradually became a trap. All I want to tell you is this: PLEASE QUIT THAT JOB! I know you probably need it, but believe me, there HAS to be something better for you. You are obviously an intelligent, capable person. My suggestion to anyone who feels so struck and frustrated in a job that has become drudgery is, don't allow yourself to stay in that prison. It will just get harder and harder to leave as the years sneak by while you're working them all away. Believe me! I've been there! When I realized how truly miserable I was at one job like this, (and therefore miserable in life because I spent most of my time working, commuting, or sleeping) I decided to do something about it. I enrolled in a short nurse aide certificate program. now im a nurse aid and many hospitals & nursing programs will pay tuition so I can become an registered nurse while I work part time at a MUCH better, more rewarding (financially and personally), and purposeful job than I had before. I'm not suggesting everyone who hates their job has to take this path. I'm just saying, there are SO MANY other options besides remaining in a job that leaves you feeling like crap, even if you can't see those options right now. You have to make a jump. One roadblock for me was that I had to work 40 hours a week at under 7 bucks an hour just to survive and then I found it hard to find the energy to look for a better job or the time and money go to school. Plus my employer offered no room for advancement. They wanted me to be a cashier for my whole life!! Don't let any company, person, or thing claim ownership of you! take control of your life and dont let a jerky manager of any kind keep pushing you around. I know this is off the subject of this blog but I just hate to read about someone suffering the same way I used to suffer. Try a certificate program! They're short and will give you a quick career advancement that you can feel good you can get financial aid and maybe an academic or income-based scholarship. and there are so many different types of fields to go into- healthcare, engineering, A/C, heating, electricity, realty, construction, etc. Just make sure the college is accredited. Business is businesss is business but you don't have to be their damn gopher all the time! Create your own life the way you want it. Don't let some jerky Panera manager create your life for you! They've got nothing over you but a higher-level McJob.

My local Panera will not sell sliced bread or toast to have with coffee or whatever....

Reminds me of "Five Easy Pieces" when Jack Nicholson couldn't get his wheat toast!!

I've stopped going there.

My local Panera will not sell sliced bread or toast to have with coffee or whatever....

Reminds me of "Five Easy Pieces" when Jack Nicholson couldn't get his wheat toast!!

I've stopped going there.

Don't like how a SonicWALL categorizes a website? Request a change here...

Many of the comments here are extremely old and impress upon me the lack of maturity. I realize no job is perfect and problems can (and will) continue to exist but if anything a poorly run store is opportunity for someone who is willing to go the extra mile and establish themselves with the customer first. Eventually the mediocre people will move on and the one who has developed a reputation as a "Master of One's Craft" will progress. I've been around the block more times than I want to admit but I have learned somethings over the years.

I was drawn to this site because I just had a first interview at the North Fayette (Pittsburgh suburb) store and was impressed. I am lookinf for info of this store.



panera managers suck.especially the ones in detroit.they all sit on their fat butts and get fatter. they do not care about employe happiness. they cover up different kinds of harassment and lie for each other.if you work there to long and make to much money they will get rid of you to save money. ten years or $15 and you are gone

i'm going to apply for a management position at a panera 2moro... thought id research ahead of time....

the complaints are all... i repeat ALL trivial.

its a chain restaurant... you arent going to get fine dining service or food. And if you work there... its a bakery... its foodservice... foodservice is a business that has a labor pyramid... somebodies gotta do the dirty work... youll get young people who dont care, you'll get simple people who almost care so much they annoy other employees... thats work... thats why they dont call it fun... cus its work

everyone works with jerks... that should be no reflection on the company as a whole... do you think that jerks dont work at starbucks?

I work at Panera and have for 2 years now...I LOVE IT there and would not trade my job for anything. It is a great place to work with wonderful people and awesome benefits. I just think too many people just want to complain. I RECOMEND Panera to anyone!

I also stumbled upon this site accidently. I am doing a Business plan on Panera bread for my Business Management class. Every Sunday morning my study group meet at Panera Bread in Shelton, Ct. we are very happy with the staff the food the free wifi and the atmosphere is excellent. We even made a few suggestion to the manager and he implemented them for the betterment of the customers.

I also stumbled upon this site accidently. I am doing a Business plan on Panera bread for my Business Management class. Every Sunday morning my study group meet at Panera Bread in Shelton, Ct. we are very happy with the staff the food the free wifi and the atmosphere is excellent. We even made a few suggestion to the manager and he implemented them for the betterment of the customers.


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This page contains a single entry by Kevin published on December 23, 2004 5:58 PM.

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