Who doesn’t love eating their favorite bread at a bakery if you are eating at Panera Bread? It is worth all the hype.
Panera Bread is one of the most sought-after names of America. The café-bakery-restaurant has become the favorite of many, especially for those who like to dine out on fresh food frequently. Even after so many years of operation, Panera Bread manages to maintain the quality of the food. The restaurant has strict policies when it comes to anti-GMO and still-warm-from-the-oven bread. All these factors make this place a must-visit!
Customers are vocal about their love for Panera Bread. The beautiful décor, the lip-smacking food, and the warming staff are everything you can expect during your first visit to this place.
Lesser-Known Things about Panera Bread
Panera Bread started as a small-time Missouri chain, and today it is operating its thousands of bakery-cafes in 46 states. Here are the lesser-known things about this café.
Panera Bread wasn’t the First Name of the Café
When the founders started their café, they didn’t name it Panera Café. It was named Au Bon Pain. The name of the company was changed over time.
Some Locations Still do not Call it Panera Bread
Panera Bread is still not called Panera bread in some locations. For instance, in the St. Louis area, where it is headquartered, they call it Saint Louis Bread Company.
The Café has an Early Start
If you want to make the most of your first Panera Bread visit, we urge you to visit early in the morning. The opening crew of the café starts their shift as early as 5 am. Some chains even begin operating at 4:45 am. You will have a good time in these early morning hours because there is no crowd.
The Employees Enjoy a Major Discount
While the employees at Panera do not get their meals comped, they do get a good discount. According to one of their employees, the cafe offers them a 65 percent discount on meals, up to $10. Not only this, they are also given meal vouchers that can be used by them, their family, or friends.
Panera knows how to care for its employees well.
Their Twice-Yearly Retreat to the Adirondacks
Most of the items on the café’s menu come from the company’s chefs and bakers, who try to win their own Panera version of Top Chef. It also conducts frequent staff meetings with the team members where they break bread together.
The Company is all About Bread
The café started with a mission of ‘A loaf of bread in every arm’, and it loves its bread. It trains all the bakers to make the best bread loaf. Every franchise gets fresh dough delivered from 23 facilities across the country through over 200 delivery trucks.
The Bread Remains High in Demand
The cafe bakes soft, delicious, and fresh bread. It is the reason why the demand for bread always remains high. Each year, the café sells approximately 150 million loaves of bread. It also sells 240 million bagels. The dough is made out of 140 million pounds of flour each year.
You can Enjoy Free Drinks if you are a Regular
Are you a regular customer at Panera Bread? Do you make frequent visits to the café and spend your hard-earned money buying the best items from their menu? If yes, you can get free drinks here.
The employees reward the frequent customers at the café with free drinks, even if they have reward cards or not.
Panera Bread is a Busy Café
Panera Bread is one of the busiest cafes in America. However, it doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy sitting and eating here. The café entertains a good amount of employees who make sure that the customers tend to get through the line quickly. The management of the staff is remarkable, we must say.
You may Enjoy Free Water
How many cafes and restaurants in America serve water for free?
You may get free water at Panera Café. The place usually gives you free tap water. Nonetheless, some locations may charge a small amount for their cup. It sells both bottled water as well as San Pellegrino sparkling water. Both these water types come with a charge.
If you want more than one serving of water, you can order yourself a small drink. The plus point here is all drinks come with free refills.
Find the Meaning of Panera
You have visited this café several times, but have you ever wondered what Panera means?
Panera is a Spanish word that translates to bread basket or a box of bread. It depends on how you interpret the meaning. Considering this chain is famous for its bread bowls, the intended meaning remains a bread bowl.
The Company has Captured a Huge Market
Who had thought that a small-time café would make such a big name for itself?
After the chain Au Bon Pain shed in 1999, it blew up completely. What began out as only 20 shops in the St. Louis area has now become 2,000 locations, all of which happened in just a decade.
The company’s background suggests that the café expanded by over 30 percent in 2009 alone. However, such expansion did not mean that it compromised in terms of taste. The taste and ingredients remained of high quality. Panera Bread was named the most innovative company by Fast Company in 2015. It opened its 2,000th bakery café in March 2016.
Listen to Good Classical Music inside the Café
One of the highlights of this café is that you will always listen to its stores playing classical music all the time. The café is famous for only pumping the classical beats for all its customers. Thus, if you are a classical music fanatic, you will have a good time here.
The First National Chain to List Calorie Counts
Years before McDonald’s began shilling kale salad, it was Panera that led the healthy eating revolution. The brand did so by doing something that is considered commonplace nowadays. Panera Bread became the first-ever café to list calorie counts on their menus.
It also removed all artificial trans fats from the menu in 2005. Today, it eliminates artificial ingredients from its food, thus promoting healthy eating without hurting your taste buds.
Safe Meat and Poultry Products
Not only does the brand keep a check on your calorie consumption, but it also ensures to provide you with safe meat and poultry. Today, customers worldwide have become particular about where their food comes from and what happens to it before it reaches their plates.
Panera has been a pioneer in offering antibiotic-free meat, thereby becoming the first national restaurant company to offer chicken raised without antibiotics at scale. It is safe to say that all the meat products available at the café are 100 percent antibiotic-free.
The Extra Food Doesn’t Get Wasted
Another quality of the cafe is that the extra baked goods that Panera bakes don’t go to waste. The loaves that do not get sold are donated to charity regularly. Items at Panera sit on the shelves in-store for a single day only. The brand has participated in the Day-End Dought-Nation program. Any remaining bread, muffin, or bagel are boxed up and delivered to community hunger relief organizations.
You can Explore Panera Café’s Secret Menu
Do you know Panera has a secret menu offering you tons of healthy options?
Unlike other cafes and chains, you can request an off-menu item here. The hidden menu of this café is something that all the staff knows about. Additionally, the advertised healthy menu items can be ordered anytime. You can try your hands on the items, like Power Steak Lettuce Wrap and a Power Breakfast Egg White Bowl.
Panera Bakery was the Largest Provider of Free Wi-Fi in the Country
Once upon a time, Panera Bread was the largest provider of free Wi-Fi in America. The brand took a gamble which also ended up paying off when it decided not to charge its customers anything for using the internet.
The sales in the café increased by 15 percent after the introduction. By the year 2012, at least 2.7 million users connected to the café’s Wi-Fi each month.
Some Panera Cafes do not have Prices
Yes, you heard it right. In 2010, the chain opened its first Panera Cares Community Cafes in Clayton. Unlike other chains and franchises, the café operates on a pay-what-you-can system. The items on the menu are listed with suggested donations.
Some customers leave more; others leave less. Such calculation brings the location 70-75 percent of the strict prices the café could make.
The Soup Schedule is Dictated by Customer Demand
Many locations of the café have a soup of the day. But if you cannot face another day without your favorite chicken noodle, the café makes a concession.
According to an employee of the café, the soup schedule varies by the store for a few reasons. It depends on how many people request a particular type of soup. If you want a perfect winter meal, calorie-laden soups are not the only option that Panera provides, you can explore other fat-burning soups as well.
Some Staffers are Assigned only to Serve Soup
The soup at Panera is so famous that there are a few employees whose responsibility is only to dish out the soups. While they reveal that the soup ladler is not a standard role at all the locations, it plays a part in the busy kitchens of the store.
The Breakfast doesn’t Last All Day
If you want to relish the breakfast at the café, be sure to visit there on time. It is because it is not always breakfast time at Panera Bread. The breakfast hours may vary between different locations. In general, the café stops serving its breakfast between 10:30 and 11:00 am. Breakfast hours also depend upon the demand.
Do not Visit Panera Bread on Thanksgiving and Christmas
Do not plan to visit the café during the festivities like Christmas and Thanksgiving. It is when you will find the Panera Bread closed. You will find some chains open with limited working hours. It is good to check before you hop.
You Can Make Panera Dishes at Home
It is possible to make your favorite Panera Bread dishes at home. Currently, the brand is putting out a line of fifty grocery items known as Panera at Home. It means you can enjoy the French Baguettes, Ciabatta Bread, Macaroni, and Cheese, and its Creamy Tomato Soup in your pantry any time of the day.
Panera Bread Sells its Art
Besides offering lip-smacking food to food lovers, Panera is also the place for the art-lovers who can explore the beautiful artistic side of the café. The paintings at the chain are worth admiring. If you have fallen in love with any of its art pieces, feel free to take them home.
But do not take it for free. The café charges some money for selling its paintings and other artifacts.
Price Rise is Normal
If you come across that the price on your regular Panera order has become steeper than usual, it is normal. The prices at the café keep jumping every 5-6 months.
The Silverware Complements Pastry
If you are a connoisseur of kitchenware, let us bring something to your notice. Every pastry at the café is served with silverware. It is the policy of the local café.
Two Bakery Items That are not Freshly Served
Although Panera Bread is well-known for baking fresh items and bread, two items on the menu are not served fresh. Cupcakes and coffee cake are thawed, but everything else remains as per the fresh serving policy of the café.
Different locations have Different Uniforms
The employees at Panera Bread may all sport that trademark apron, but each store’s ownership decides the type of uniform for their employees. Corporate stores are a black shirt and white jeans. Franchises have other dress codes for the employees.
You Cannot Order a Sliced Bread
The café may be famous for its bread, but you cannot ask for sliced bread. The café doesn’t serve slices, but an entire loaf.
We hope you enjoyed reading lesser-known things about the much-hyped Panera Bread café. Visit here to have a good time, and of course, good food.