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Mar 29, 2007 07:52 PM

What's with Panera Bread?

Used to like Panera for lunch but the last few times I ate at Solana Beach location it's losing its appeal. The salad ingredients are not fresh with browned lettuce, uner-ripe tomatoes, and cheese that looks extruded out of a machine. Tables are left dirty and the place seems totally disorganized. I've not seen this at other locations. Anyone else have similar experiences?

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  1. As with any other franchise, the quality of the service and the food is only as good as the local franchisee who owns the place. That being said, I have observed a huge difference from one Panera to another in NJ. The one in Princeton, despite being always busy, is well-run, clean, efficient, and without any food issues that I have noticed.

    On the other hand, the Panera in Piscataway has disappointed me on a couple of occasions. Once, at the Piscataway location, they were so understaffed and so disorganized that it took approximately 22 minutes for my order to be prepared. And then, the half sandwich & soup combo turned out to be at best 1/4 sandwich and soup. It appeared that they used a heel of the bread loaf to make my sandwich from two mis-matched tiny pieces of bread. The sandwich was gone in two bites, clearly making it a poor value. I complained on the corporate website and I was told that I would be contacted by the local manager. I am still awaiting his/her contact 14 months later!

    At the Raritan, NJ location, I have also noticed that the employees seem to change with amazing rapidity. If an employer cannot retain employees, then there have to be some issues with wages or working conditions, IMHO. Despite the rapid turnover of employees at that location, they do seem to do a credible job at Raritan on most of my visits. The best-run location that I have observed is the one in Woodbridge, NJ. It is always clean and efficient, with no food issues--at least in my experience.

    1. I'm in Richmond, VA and our local Panera used to be very good but last few times I went the service was horrendous and the food lacking in quality, wrong temp, hastily thrown together, etc.

      1. I don't eat out very often, but I noticed in my last Panera visit that the staff seemed completely oblivious and ignorant. How hard is it to take a sandwich and soup order? Dirty tables too.

        I'd rather support the local mom & pop deli (friendly, value, GOOD eats) than these abysmal corporate chains.

        1 Reply
        1. re: hypertomatoes

          I frequent the Panera Bread in Rockaway NJ and the one in Woodcliff Lake NJ, they are both highly efficient, food is consistent, and generally clean. Woodcliff Lake being the cleaner of the two.

        2. Each location has different management so it definitely depends. I have found however that whenever I order the Asian Sesame Chicken Salad (which basically is every time I go, I'm obsessed) some of the chicken pieces have a tiny pink specks like they're too raw. It's a veryyy little part of one or two pieces so I don't complain, but seeing that problem recur has been pretty annoying!

          1. We used to love Panera years ago when it first opened here, but agree that the place has gone downhill. The staff is surly, the food is not so good, and the whole experience has become less than pleasant. I think they have become victims of their own success.