Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Panera Bread Co.

I love Panera.  I once drove an hour to the nearest Panera and spent the day there.  I arrived around 8:30am and ordered a delicious cinnamon crunch bagel with hazelnut cream cheese and a mug for bottomless coffee.   I typically opt for the hazelnut coffee with a quarter inch of half & half cream, and a splash of sugar.  I sat and read for a couple hours and spent some time on my beloved Mac (Free Wi-Fi at Panera - eat that Starbucks).  Later, I strolled up to the counter to order lunch, which consisted of a Chicken Chipotle Sandwich and a bowl of French Onion Soup.  It was heavenly.  I finally headed home around 3:45pm, after being there for over 7 hours.  

People will often ask, "Chris, how can you enjoy a restaurant so much that you'll spend an entire day there?"  To which I'll reply, "Actually, it's a bakery-cafe, friend, and the reason I can spend an entire day there is 3-fold.  #1  The food/coffee at Panera Bread is delicious.  #2  Panera Bread does a commendable job of hiring only the friendliest and happiest people around.  #3  Lastly, but most importantly, I twice-monthly yearn to spend an entire day at Panera because of their phenomenal ambiance."  

Yes folks, the ambiance at a Panera is second to none.  With comfortable chairs and booths, large day-dreaming windows, fireplaces come standard, bottomless coffee, soothing music, incredible people watching, and wall-to-wall carpet, you just can't beat it.  

Recently I found myself at a Panera Bread in Madison as I was on my way back to the 53959.  I knew as soon as I walked in that this was going to be a caramel latte and cobblestone day.  If you're not familiar with a cobblestone, then before you finish reading this post, you should find your way to the nearest Panera and get yourself a cobblestone (Tell 'em I sent ya!).  Actually, you should wait until you're done reading, because I have vital information that may aid in your next Panera Bread adventure...

After I ordered my delicious snack, the friendly Panera lady said, "That'll be $4.88." to which I respond, "Yes ma'am!  You got it! (a little cheesy, yes, but I find the more excited I am about something, the cheesier I get - I've never been cheesy when ordering a snack at McDonalds, especially since I recently experienced an unfortunate "eye lash incident" at the local McDonalds - don't ask questions, just don't eat there anymore)

As I was reaching for my wallet the gal said, "Oh wait, is that for here or to go?"  As much as I wanted to stay, I knew I should be getting on home, so I responded, "Let's get 'er to go, please."  
She then said, "Okay, then that'll be $4.77."

"Wait," I replied, "it's 11 cents cheaper if I get it to go?"

"Yes," she answerd, "if you get it for here you pay for the ambiance."

"Ma'am... you just blew my mind."

This got me thinking:  What if while ordering at Panera Bread, you told them you'd like your order to go, but then instead of leaving the bakery-cafe, you sat in a booth and enjoyed your beverage and snack inside?  Would you technically be stealing "ambiance"?  Discuss... 

Next week:  I will be attempting my first cross country ski race this Saturday in the north woods of Manoquwa, WI.  Tune in next week to read about my triumphant victory!

Soon:  More Haiti stories to come, however, I hope to receive more photos from team members so I can fully illustrate the incredible experience.  

Peace be da journey, 
Chris Topher

Love the story, hate the story, have a better idea?  Comment or send an email:  christopher.clyde.aderhold@gmail.com

1 comment:

Chadwick said...

I actually find this news quite disturbing; not unsettling enough to curve my enthusiasm away from Panera, but it does cause some disappointment. Mainly because if I were to operate a coffee shop, it would make sense to encourage people to eat in or drink in because you save on the disposable materials like boxes and styrofoam cups. The fact that they use real dishes when you dine in is one of the numerous appeals to Panera.

I mean, at least say that the added 11 cents is because if you stay you get refills (even though we all know that is a joke also), but to say that you are paying for the ambiance seems a bit ridiculous.

However, if this is their only crime, and as an avid Panera fan myself I have found no others, then I say sobeit. Because they still are not charging you $3 or whatever it is for a basic cup of coffee like Starbucks, they allow you refills where Starbucks does not, and they do not rape you for internet as Starbucks seems to enjoy doing. Plus, where most starbucks have very limited seating and mostly UNcomfortable, as you have pointed out, Panera offers an abundance of comfortable seating.