Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > New Jersey >
Jul 31, 2012 05:48 AM

Opening day jitters at Panera

The Panera Bread at Brunswick Square Mall opened today so I stopped in for breakfast. The entrance door had about 4 inches of play and would budge no more. I walked into it and hit my leg hard. Ouch. I didn't even get inside and I'm already maimed. I hobbled up to the counter to order a sandwich (to go, in order to minimize risk of more injuries.)

They gave me a pager, and the manager came over and gave me a thermos for being one of their first 200 customers. My pager never went off, and after a while I noticed an egg sandwich sitting on the counter getting cold. My name was on the receipt and it was on a plate, i.e. not to go. I told a line cook that it was mine and took it. I'm all for the local businesses, but this beats my usual bacon and eggs on a poppy seed from the bagel shop.

So I at my sandwich and departed, but not without another unfortunate encounter with my old nemesis, the door. It doesn't take to being pushed anymore than being pulled. I pushed it several inches before it stopped, then I walked into it and spilled scalding hot coffee on myself. You may want to wait a while before stopping in as Murphy's law is in full effect.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Great opportunity to provide immediate feedback to the Mgr. who handed you the complimentary thermos. That's often what being one of the first customers in a new place can be about. Did you think to mention the door?

    Telling us doesn't do you any good :)

    1. Panera has never captured my heart so this will be another one that I just don't pay much mind to. Besides picking up a loaf of bread for home their soups are all typical canned variety and the breads on most of thier sandwiches are to doughy.........even their bagels I don't like. Sorry for the injury ice the leg!!

      11 Replies
      1. re: jrvedivici

        Oh I'd give the Mediterranean sandwich a try before throwing out the whole menu, jrve.

        1. re: HillJ

          My wife loves Panera. Then again, my wife loves chains in general. But, anyway.... I don't eat bread, so Panera doesn't interest me in that aspect. Their salads are okay.. the steak salad is not too bad. I'm cautious about ordering a soup when I'm not sure what's in it.

          There used to be one near us.. Suddenly, there's THREE near us (including EB).

          1. re: MarlboroMan

            MM, I think all these openings has really rattled Starbucks (reports that they are bought a CA based bakery for one). Salads I rarely order out but the soups at Panera tend to be salty. My bil loves their chicken pot pie soup. I couldn't get over the price of the seasonal lobster roll....but the Med sandwich I enjoy.

            1. re: HillJ

              Let me ask you about Starbucks.....I remember seeing on CNBC a year or two ago Starbucks (I think in New York) was looking into doing a test market for offering beer and wine at certain locations. Do you / anyone know if that ever took place? What were the results?

              1. re: jrvedivici

                Testing started out in Seattle and CA, expanded to GA, PA, IL...last I read (which was early this year).

                Results I'm not sure about, meaning, I don't know if these initial cafes serving wine & beer still are or if SB has plans to expand those setups or if it has scrapped the idea for a new one (which SB is known to do).

                1. re: HillJ

                  When I first saw the segment I thought it was an awful idea……many of the people I know who go to Starbucks and are part of that “culture” are people who chose that specifically over a bar scene. I immediately thought it could be detrimental to their very core base of customers.

                  1. re: jrvedivici

                    You know SB tries hard to be all things to all people. Music, wine & beer, java, tea, community minded, globally responsible, good to staff, pro-training, never rests on its menu items, on and on.

                    I look at the big picture and think Howard's been on and off his game; on and off the job and the Co. is a global-household name.

                    Their "core" base is diverse and for the most part VERY loyal.

                    1. re: HillJ

                      Very well put HillJ. SB takes its share of flack from people but if even 25% of corporations had the culture of this company there would be a lot more happy people.
                      Plus as you say one of the top icon brands in the world, amazing for such a young company.

          2. re: HillJ

            I have not tired the Mediterranean sandwhich.....but the sandwiches I did try traditionaly came of a very "doughy" roll/bread and I was literally like the lady from the old Wendy's commercials opening the large bread/roll slices looking for me tow pieces of turkey my asiagio spread one fresh onion ring and some half limp leaves of lettuce leaving me to scratch my head for $7.95 saying "Where's the beef" (or turkey for this example). I've had some sandwhiches on their normal bread slices which are always very FRESH etc. but eating a sandwich on regular bread makes me feel like I'm back in gradeschool and well if my mom didn't make the sandwich then no matter how good the fresh bread it it's just not like mom's!!

            One thing I will give them is I drink Ice Coffee and their Hazelnut Coffee is very when I do bring the kids I enjoy a Iced Hazelnut........and free refill's!! Or at least nobody has stopped me yet!! I will on occasion stop at a Panera if I have time to kill between appointments and want a cup of coffee...sit in one of the lounge chairs by the fire place and relax a bit. I find the enviroment less "click-ish" than a Star Bucks where I just don't fit in...and most Dunkin Donuts aren't very comfortable to sit and relax in.

            1. re: jrvedivici

              My trick is to order coffee so I get a hot cup. I have a cold drink with my lunch, then fill it with coffee for the road.

              I miss the old Dunkin' Donuts where you could sit at the counter and get coffee in a real cup.

              1. re: jrvedivici

                I've had mixed experiences with the self-serve coffee bar. When they put out a new carafe of coffee on several occassions the grounds flow into the first couple of pours. They have to dump an entire carafe and remake it. I've brought more than my share of carafes to the Mgr. but when brewed properly I like the hazelnut too. My husband enjoys their decaf.

                What appeals to me most is their customer service, their generous dining rooms (recently while in CA they had a live guitar player in the morning for customers) and their wonderful bread donation at the end of every day outreach.