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May 25, 2007 06:15 AM

Panera Bread opening in it good?

I saw a sign in the mall where Odd Job used to be and saw a sign Panera Bread coming this place any good? We need a great bread bakery in Southern Westchester...I believe they may be of the chain variety, gosh, I hope its not another "Cosi-style" bread cafe!

Has anyone ever heard or tasted their bread???

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  1. I've only had the bread served with the sandwiches, never just went in for bread. It's not bad. Bagels are, not surprisingly, very bleh. They have a lot of baked dessert items which I haven't tried. It is along the lines of a Cosi.

    It's decent for a chain sandwich or salad but for the bread itself can't replace an actual good bakery. When you want amazing bread (and many other things), hike over to Port Chester RawTuna... go to Kneaded Bread.

    1. More people should try out Arthur Avenue in the bronx. From southern westchester its about 10-25 minutes (bronxville-white plains). There are a couple of good bakeries there as well as great produce, meats, everything that westchesterites complain about not having (at reasonable prices). And all at half the price of whole foods (meats and cheeses espescially).

      1. Yes, it's a chain. There's an outlet in Yorktown, I think, maybe Somers, and their sandwiches are pretty good for what they are. I kind of like Cosi, actually, and I hope Panera will be acceptable in its stead, although I once had a "ceasar" salad at a Panera that apparently lacked any garlic at all. But hey, at least it's a wee bit more inventive than Boston Market or Cal Pizza Kitchen.

        1. It's a big national chain and the food tastes as it should - made for the masses. We have several in the capital district area. It's better than mcdonald's or boston market.
          Panera's is actually the renamed 'Au Bon Pain' chain from the 90's ( If you like food chains (most americans do, seemingly), then you'll probably like it. We don't, and there's surely a quality independent bread company near you, or a farmer's market where breadmakers come with their wares. We have several in our area each week, surely there are many in westchester.

          7 Replies
          1. re: salvador

            Panera's is not the "renamed Au Bon Pain chain from the 90's"--indeed Au Bon Pain still exists as Au Bon Pain. I have been to the Panera's in Yorktown, and it is ok for what it is--a quick lunch that is more inventive and fresh than many other fast food joints. It is not an artisinal bread bakery, but the bread is ok, and the coffee is delicious.

            1. re: Marge

              Panera is just ok...Au Bon Pain is actually a notch or two better,,

              1. re: Marge

                Interesting though...I guess the two -- Au Bon Pain & Panera -- are related since Au Bon Pain bought what eventually became Panera in the early 90's. Needless to say, I'm not the biggest fan of Au Bon Pain, yet for what it is, it sure beats McDonalds!

                1. re: RawTunaFan

                  They definitely had common ownership in the mid-90s, but Panera is really a concept based around the origins of St Louis Bread Company which was purchased by Au Bon Pain in 1993. After finalizing the Panera concept and some expansion, the company decided to divest Au Bon Pain rather than spin off Panera. But the concepts, while similar in their bakery focus and with some overlap in types of menus, remained separate.


                  They compete now. Around here we have both, although little in direct competition because ABP is only in downtown and at the airport, whereas Panera is mainly in suburban locations. (This is changing; ABP is starting to do suburban locations in some of their markets.) Au Bon Pain, I'd say, is doing it better. Panera is phoning it in these days IMO. Perhaps it helps that ABP is serving a smaller number of outlets. Panera can still be useful in a pinch, but it's not the ideal choice it once seemed.

                  I can't compare to Cosi, not having really experienced that, but I guess that one as well is in a similar market niche.

                  1. re: RawTunaFan

                    "Needless to say, I'm not the biggest fan of Au Bon Pain, yet for what it is, it sure beats McDonalds!"

                    I sometimes think that, but then I check the nutrition facts on the Italian Combo I often order when I go there and think to myself "Wow, if I was going to blow my diet so badly, I could have just had the Big N Tasty I'm always denying myself."

                2. re: salvador

                  Salvador, I, for one, take umbrage. Yes, quite a lot of Americans like food chains but not necessarily most and the vast majority of Chowhounds do not - that's why we're here. Best not to generalize. Also, Au Bon Pain still exists.

                  1. re: salvador

                    I am not aware of any famers markets where you can go in and get a sandwich or salad and sit down and eat it. Care to point me at the ones you are talking about? Also, what happens when I want something on a day when my local farmer's market (which isn't even open for the season yet) isn't there?

                  2. I'm a regular customer of Panera (and Cosi) and in my opinion Panera is doing a very decent job for what it tries to be. It is a chain and conceptual somewhat close to Cosi. Where I live (Westfield, NJ) there is actually a Panera and a Cosi right across the street from each other. Competition makes them both focus on their customers.

                    From a bread perspective Panera is not a dramatic improvement. They have a good variety and it is better than what you get at a supermarket but it is not a high-end artisan bakery (and it is not trying to be one). The sourdough baquette is above average and the focaccias and the ciabatta are actually quite good. I also like the asiago demi.

                    When you get sandwiches you can choose from a variety of breads (cosi is a bit limited there). The flad bread at Panera (called crispani) wins easily against the more traditional (and for my taste too doughy) pizza at Cosi and it is a much better value. The "You pick two" at Panera (half sandwich, half salad, soup) is a pretty good lunch deal. Finally, almost all Panera's have free wireless, only some Cosi's do.
                    Cosi wins on the breakfast sandwiches (they do have them and you can create your own) and they allow BYOB which Panera does not.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: FoodFetish

                      FoodFetish -- Nice post. I used to really like Cosi. I still like their bread but I find that their sandwiches can be rather thin on incredients. As you say, the You Pick Two at Panera is a very good deal, lots of food. My only problem is that you cannot get stuff on the sandwich customized.

                      1. re: MisterBill2


                        you are right about the customization of sandwiches, that can be difficult at Panera. My experience is that they let you theoretically customize most sandwiches except the paninis which seemingly are premade and just reheated on the grill. For the others I often specify a different bread or "without onions" and in roughly 30% of the time they don't get it right. (Nevertheless, if you then complain you often get a second sandwich for free. If you are hungry that is good thing if not it probably goes to waste.)
                        I have also seen some Panera struggle with this more than others.

                        1. re: FoodFetish

                          It might just be when I get the You Pick Two that they won't let me customize since they make the whole sandwiches and then serve half with each order.