February 14, 2005

Panera: come for the wireless...

...stay away from the food.

Since we did our valentine's thing yesterday, and I spent the day delivering my v-day presents to my clients, Kelly and I decided that we'd just get something light for dinner. It's actually conceivable that we were still full from last night! So we went to Panera. It was our second visit; the other time we went was to have lunch about a week ago.

The first time we went, I got soup and a sandwich. Kelly got just soup. They gave him the wrong soup. OK, oops, no problem, switch out the soup, we're fine. The soups tasted salty to me but Kelly said they were good.

Tonight, I ordered a greek salad, which was very overdressed. you could have wrung it out. There were a few bits of lettuce that were wilted into slime, but nothing horrible. Kelly orderd soup and sandwich. The soup was ok, but the sandwich...
...he ordered roast beef, on wheat, with no onion....but he GOT ham on rye WITH onion. and way too much mustard.

now, if there were ANY other customers in the place, then I could see that perhaps his order got confused with someone else's and he'd go up and tell; them and everyone would have a good laugh... but we were the only people at the counter!! And the receipt he was holding SAID roast beef, no onion. It was like someone said, "well, we got this sandwich here, already made, and this guy wants a sandwich, so let's just go with it. Maybe he won't notice. Weird.

Of course, Kelly being who he is, ate it anyway. It took every ounce of my concentration to stay in my seat and not go ranting to the manager. But that's me, being who I am.

So if you want to mooch free wireless and you haven't had lunch, and you're not too picky about what you eat, (even so far as to not even be so "picky" that what you GET is what you ORDERED!) then Panera is worth checking out. The food is nothing memorable, but the place is clean and the food's acceptable.

Since I am never one day never one day going to have my own place, I like to examine what's going on with a new restaurant, and keep checking them out as they work out the bugs. My favorite of those places is Amandine. I am fanatical about Amandine, for that reason. They started out with coffee and pastries. then added soup, and sandwiches, and quiche, and omelets... They keep doing it right, most of the time. They're tightly staffed and they're busy. And you know what else? you can actually taste the care put into the food. we always seem to get a table by the coffee condiments, and we overhear people say how pleased that they are that the place is taking off. (it's been there for 2 years) That place has got it going on. If they only had free wireless...but alas, they don't need a gimmick. Amandine: Come for the food, stay for the food, come back for the food!

Last thing I ate or drank: that salad, referred to above

update: LINKS

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  1. wow! i eat at Panera all the time and i have never had any problems like that - in fact i love it! they are always coming out with new flavors and the palce itself has such a great ambiance at any part of the day - free wi-fi is great - but the feeling of relaxation, fulfillment and comfort i get for my panera keep me going back for more! i love it so much that i actually just hunted down a Panera blog that you should check out!

    go again, 3rd times a charm!

  2. Wow, that was the biggest piece of corporate propaganda I've ever read! Here's a tip... don't comment on something that's several months old. I'm leaving your comment there, but I'm adding my disclaimer:

    "The comment by PWEBBS is corporate propaganda... as is the blog that s/he linked to. Please take with a grain of salt."

    ...preferably take some of the salt from their oversalted soups!

  3. Just a question....why not comment on something that is a few months old? That's what the long tail is all about.

  4. The comment was just so out of place, and so cheerleader-y, that the fact someone bothered to comment on a three month old entry seemed....off. It's what first tipped me off to the whole (alleged) deal. Plus... that the writer sent me to a blog created only yesterday (relative to her post) pushed it over the edge. Fishy, no?

  5. I agree - this is totally a piece of corporate propaganda. Clearly Panera knows nothing about a web saavy audience. You don't create a "faux" blog in the hopes of getting people to talk about your company. If you do, it is sure to result in a loss of customers. I can assure you that because of this stunt I will never eat there again! Nice job Panera!

  6. If you decide to use deceptive advertising as a reason to not frequent establishments or brands you may as well hole yourself up in a cave.

  7. Joanna:

    I agree with your follow-up. All the pieces added up to be very fishy.

    So of course the question now is did Panera put somebody up to this or was is just some lame ad account rep hoping to come back to Panera and say "We've started a blog for you!"

  8. well.... now pwebbs has to go back to Panera and say, "You know how blogs are trendy and cool? Well, we started a blog for you, because Panera's trendy and cool, but this chef chick in L.A. shit all over it, so, uh, we had to take it down."

    I wish google still included comment results in the searches (they used to, but eliminated it because of comment spam like this!) just so I could see how many people pwebbs hit who didn't catch on.

    C'est la vie!

  9. UPDATE:

    Seems that this was a stunt the whole time, badly executed as it was...

    I feel used, so used!

    if you are totally abored, read more discussion about it here: http://www.adrants.com/2005/05/panera-launches-faux-blog.php#comments

    It's not like I think I'm some hero or something, but I did find it interesting (and a little fun) to call them on it.

  10. Thanks for calling the faux comment on my blog to my attention. Nice catch! Seems as though the whole thing was at least not Panera's fault.

    I'm surprised by your problems with the food, though. I eat there pretty regularly, and have never been disappointed. (And have never received an incorrect order, either.) This must be a franchise-by-franchise issue. (The Panera I go to is in Rochester, NY.)

  11. Seems the Panerafan blog is no longer available.

  12. Here is a community Panera blog. It is mostly for workers at Panera though.


    I work at Panera as a shift manager. I'm sorry your order was wrong and that your soup was salty. The soups come in a bag from TrueSoups (or at least the ones at the Panera Bread stores in Indiana). I really like the Baked Potato, but the Broccoli Cheddar and French Onion is way way too salty for me. Not sure what happened with the messed up sandwich . . .poor training, poor management. . .or maybe silly mistake. In any case it is one of those mistakes that I am pretty free about handing out free gift cards to customers. So yeah, anytime you catch any mistake bring it to the manager's attention. Even if you aren't upset about it, just so the manager can figure out what is wrong and fix it for the next people.

    Hope your next experience is better.



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