I’m Having Trouble Holding On

I’m really having trouble remaining entrenched Panera.   I don’t want to launch a revolt, rebellion, or negatively impact their business but here’s my feelings at present.

  1. I’ve been going there for over 6 months now.  I’m a stranger EVERY day to the employees and managers there.
  2. Not a soul has remembered my name…ever.  Even when I’ve provided the mnemonic.
  3. I’ve been introduced to most that work there by Mike Sansone.  I’ve tried to interact and create a sense that I care at the register, etc.  No luck. 
  4. Unlike Starbucks, my Panera doesn’t care much about the "cafe" area.  They clean it infrequently, usually only after the entire rush is gone…and sometimes that’s hours.
  5. The coffee is frequently empty or past is "expiration date" posted on the pot.
  6. I have no complaints about the food quality whatsoever.
  7. Yesterday, I was there from 10AM-5PM.  I’m like a big rock in the middle of the road.  It must take special care to avoid me.  How is this possible?

I will hold on for a while and will likely continue to utilize Panera as my office away from home…but I am looking.   Is it just University Panera?  I did visit the Panera on 86th in Johnston (Urbandale maybe?)…and I felt more of a sense of community there immediately from the employees.  There are many businesses around town with free wireless connectivity.



6 thoughts on “I’m Having Trouble Holding On”

  1. Hi Doug,
    In many ways, I apologize and feel terrible about what you’ve experienced at Panera U. Even though they’ve been short handed lately, they should at least embrace you by name and with smiles. That is the culture that once was – and hopefully will be again.
    Frankly, I’ve also witnessed changes in the ‘mood’ and wonder how long my marriage to this franchise will last. And I don’t even use the Wi-Fi (thanks to EVDO).
    If you find a good spot, let me know so we can continue to gather.

  2. Hi Doug,
    Do you have an EVDO card? That increases the possibilities. I’m going to several different places on a rotating basis. It’s good for me to have variety. In fact I’m off to Panera Johnston right now.
    I don’t know if Panera listens to the blogosphere. Guess we’ll find out!

  3. I have never had this problem at Panera and will continue to study there. I think that a lot of employees there might feel like they are barging into your space if they keep coming over and talking to you. When you use Panera as a work space, I think they don’t want to bother you. That would be my take at least.
    On days that I am really studying hard…with my earphones in and head down, they leave me to my studying…which I appreciate. When I am just hanging out, the employees are VERY nice…in fact, last week one of the employees handed me a $5 gift certificate, just for being a “sweet customer”.
    I really hope you guys will re-evaluate leaving Panera.

  4. I remember asking Mike a while back why he was married to Panera, of all places. He gave me a good answer about his past experiences, so I understand the loyalty… however, the reason I asked the question was because I’ve never really thought of Panera as a customer-oriented place. I worked in KC in the mall for 2 years, visiting Panera just about every day, and not once even got a mall employee discount, even after suggesting it to the management. (Even Auntie Anne’s Pretzels gave a discount!) I think some places (mostly franchises) are just there to provide good food, and not good service… no matter how incorrect that may be!

  5. Well, as the manager of the particular Panera that you are describing(although not at that time) I hope you will give us another chance. My managers do walk throughs of the dining room regularly but sometimes it is a fine line as to when you can converse with a customer and when they are really consumed with work, but if you look up and say something I (or any of my managers) will stop, smile and start a conversation with you. I truly love talking with my customers, I learn a great deal.(like that there was a blogging world out there from Mike)

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