The Great Panera Bread Swindle


The last two times I have been to Panera Bread, it’s been a debacle.  Okay, I’m exaggerating a bit… but it’s still ridiculous when compared to the price.  At the Robinson (Settler’s Ridge?) location, I got the wrong sandwich entirely… but tonight’s experience was absolutely ridiculous.  I actually just reviewed my experience at PaneraListens.com (as per the receipt), and through the contact form on their website.

This is what I shared…

I paid $6.69 for a half of a sandwich, which is now lunch meat & used to be actual pieces of turkey.  There were onions on the sandwich, and the receipt says “no onions” like I asked.  No big deal in itself.  There was no mustard/mayo/sauce on the sandwich, except for a thumbprint of something on the top/outside that shouldn’t be there.  Didn’t it used to come with a mustard?  1 of the 2 pieces of lettuce had brown edges.  The center of the tomato was hard & green.  The chicken noodle soup was ridiculously sparse as far as the  noodles and/or chicken.  I had about 4 or 5 spoonfuls of actual ingredients, and about a half bowl of broth.  The (lack of) quality of the meal was astounding.  How far has a once-great restaurant fallen?  I expect crappy food/service from McDonald’s… but not from Panera Bread.

You can improve by instructing employees to read their screens or receipts or whatever they read to make the orders.  You can then teach them how to make sandwiches without using brown lettuce or green tomatoes… and how to not put mustard thumb-prints on the outside of mustard-less sandwiches.  (Cross-contamination is a nightmare for people with food-allergies, have you considered this?)  You can also teach them how to ladle proper portions of chicken noodle soup… now with lame little noodles instead of the homemade-looking ones of yesteryear.

You can also stop subbing turkey lunch meat for real turkey in your $6 turkey sandwiches.  A friggin’ POUND of turkey at the grocery store doesn’t even cost $6, and YOU should be getting restaurant/wholesale prices.  Not that I would deny you profit… but REALLY?  Do the turkeys that you buy use gold nuggets in their gizzards?  Do they drink fine wine?

I neglected to go complain, because everyone working seemed to really care less if my order was correct or not… I also fear some sort of retaliation if I need a re-made sandwich or an actual bowl (not cup) of soup.

My wife had a cream of broccoli soup & a salad that looked spectacular.  No brown lettuce even… and it was a whole bowl!  She did get a knife that had rust on the handle though… sort of unappetizing.  I’d rather see plastic flatware than rusty flatware.

Something was really wrong here today, or I just had some bad karma all around my order.

I know I sound insane, and it’s really not that big of a deal… but this kind of stuff drives me absolutely nuts.  I just can’t imagine serving a half-assed sandwich… with a thumbprint on it, either in my house to a guest, or especially not at a job where I’m being paid to do it.  Also, you go to a chain for consistency… which I have never received at Panera.

I think I’m most disappointed with the apparent swindling of turkey lunch meat for actual turkey… and whatever those tiny little pasta squares were compared to the old homemade style noodles.  Panrea bread… we’re not stupid.  I doubt I’ll be back.

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29 responses to “The Great Panera Bread Swindle

  1. Woah, just checked-out Panera bread on FB & saw this

    I’m Dan Kish, Panera’s head chef. I want to update everyone on some new developments with our all-natural Chicken Noodle Soup. We are closely monitoring the conversations on this tab and all conversations on our Facebook page, as well as listening to what our guests are saying in our bakery-cafes. While we’re happy to know that many of you like the change in our soup, we do understand that some of you preferred our old recipe.

    We believe that continuing to provide great soups to our guests means remaining flexible and open to suggestions. While we remain committed to our new low-fat all-natural recipe that many of you have commented on, we wanted to act on the suggestions from many of you to make the Chicken Noodle Soup heartier with less broth and more noodles and carrots.

    These changes may take a month or so to begin to make their way into each bakery-cafe. We’ll be sure to let you know when it’s available throughout the country so you can stop by and ask for a sample. In the meantime, we respect how passionate our fans are and appreciate you telling us how you feel. We are listening.

  2. You need to find one of these new “pay what you like” Panera’s. They tested one and it was so successful, they’re testing more. The concept is just what it says. You get your meal with no price attached and pay what you think it’s worth. Amazingly, they’ve been doing as well finacially in those units as in their traditional ones! You might change that! :)

    • Interesting… I’ve never heard of this. My sandwich yesterday was worth $1 at most, and the soup about 89¢… or the cost of a can of broth.

      I think the ‘Burgh is too cheap for them to try it here. Ha ha.

  3. I wish my life was so simple that I had time in my day to be so upset to make a blog post about a little bit of mustard (that, if i read correctly, you were ALSO upset at the lack of) on a piece of bread.

    You’ve probably never held a food service job, because if you did, you would understand that sometimes you accidentally grab an under-ripe tomato.

    Being snarky and acting like the pompous asshole you probably are to the people serving your food isn’t going to make you any friends and it’s going to make you look like an idiot with your head up your ass.

    • So, how long have you worked at Panera?

      I’m always polite to the people that serve me food. I have to say that I do any job to the best of my ability. I’m pretty sure I could handle not putting brown lettuce on a sandwich. If you read my post, I didn’t even go complain to the people working there. Not one word. I took my poorly constructed messy brown-lettuced sandwich along with my bowl of chicken broth being passed off as soup and ate it.

      The mustard thumbprint on the outside of the sandwich is a bigger issue. Are you aware of food allergies & cross-contamination?

    • I wish that my life was so simple that I had the time to go on someone’s blog and be the things that you’re accusing Eric of being. That’s swell.

      As for the comment about the mustard, Eric stated that the sandwich didn’t have anything inside of it, but did have something on the outside. Quite simply, that means that someone had that on their hands while handling his food. I’m not one with allergies, but I am a vegetarian, so cross-contamination is a concern for me as well as it is for Eric.

      I’ve had many food service jobs. No one ever got brown lettuce or an underripe tomoato when I made their food. Why not? Because I made the food in a manner that I would want to eat it. If you so easily dismiss the fact that a tomato might be underripe, then you obviously don’t care about your customers and what they receive.

      If anyone here has issues with friends, based on your words typed on this screen, it’s you.

      • Thanks Dave, sorry for taking so long to reply… I was busy trying to get my head out of my ass.

        Apparently we’re crazy for demanding quality, and we ought to just complacently eat whatever slop is piled on to our plates at any dining establishment, regardless of price.

        At least I’m not the only one bewildered at how a supposedly now-mustardless sandwich gets a mustard thumbprint on the outside.

        What’s not clean? Sandwich boards? Hands?

        Was it even mustard? I can’t comprehend.

        I applaud your former dedication to quality food preparation. This is awesome:

        I’ve had many food service jobs. No one ever got brown lettuce or an underripe tomato when I made their food. Why not? Because I made the food in a manner that I would want to eat it. If you so easily dismiss the fact that a tomato might be underripe, then you obviously don’t care about your customers and what they receive.

        I’m guessing at said food service jobs, you weren’t at the top of the payscale chain, yet did your job to the best of your ability anyway? Fascinating.

  4. The rage sir, the rage! Do you know how hard you have to press to get a thumbprint thought those rubber gloves?

  5. Get over it!!! A MISTAKE IS A MISTAKE!!!!! they do not use mayo or mustard anymore! If you do not like the soup get over it! BE A MAN!!! ACT LIKE A MAN!! NOT A GIRL! AND THE TURKEY NEVER CHANGED!!! JUST PRESLICED NOW! ALWAYS THE SAME TURKEY !!!!!!!!!

    • If they don’t use mayo or mustard any more… then how did it get on a thumbprint on the outside of my sandwich? Or was that the soup… that wasn’t even part of my order? Why is there a thumb in my wife’s soup?

      What if I was allergic to cheese or broccoli, and I had consumed the sandwich which I thought was cheese & broccoli free?

      Why do you equate a complaint email to acting like a girl? I find that a little sexist, actually. Should I tell you to STOP TYPING IN ALL CAPS LIKE A 13 YEAR OLD BOY?

      How do you know the turkey’s the same? Do you work at Panera Bread?

      Are you the one that made my sandwich?

      • no i do not work at panera bread, I just know these things since my best friend use to work at one a few months ago. I understand the thumbprint that would be gross to me as well, but you could have asked them for a new sandwich.

        • Glad to see that the thumbprint would have grossed you out as well. I don’t know where this would be acceptable. I indeed could have asked them for a new sandwich, then I would have been viewed as “that asshole who made us make him a new sandwich” by the employees behind the counter. As it is now, I’m just “that asshole who filled out the ‘contact us’ form online”.

        • You didn’t work at this McDonald’s, did you?

  6. I’ve worked in various restaurants over the past five or so years. I’m very aware of cross-contamination issues, and I have my own food allergies, thanks. However, I also know that at ANY short-order/fast food job I’ve had, anybody making your food is more than happy to change their gloves or hell, even make your food on a separate cutting board with a different knife if you let them know you have serious (most are serious, granted) and/or specific food allergies. No need to act like I live under a rock.

    Employees generally don’t have any problem when you tell them something is wrong because hey, sometimes you screw up. Of course it’s implied that you’re the kind of person who propagates myths about KFC employees relieving themselves in batter, so there’s that.

    But writing an long and condescending comment to the store’s management (who probably get shit on enough as it is) and then ANOTHER lengthy and just-as-condescending, not to mention partially irrelevant, letter to a woman apologizing to you and offering compensation is rude and honestly uncalled for. She ALREADY READ your first comment. At that point, the second essay is just degrading. To throw in an entire paragraph about the way the company advertises their services? It’s not necessary.
    It’s great that you think you have the authority to call her out on lying about turkey. Did they switch to preslicing because it saves time? Obviously it takes longer to slice meat every morning in addition to whatever else is being prepared.

    You can complain about company policy all you want to this poor woman and at the end of the day, you were an asshole to her and there’s still nothing she can do about what the corporate offices tell her she has to do.

    • Thanks for stopping back again, BD, & taking the time to continue our dialog. I appreciate opinions & views different than my own. I remember telling someone at Subway about my allergies once, and they waved the ice-cream scoop of death all around, spewing little tiny flecks of creamy deathfish all over the adjacent meats, cheeses, and vegetables.

      As a blogger, I push things to an illustrative extreme to garner a reaction. Oh boy, did it work.

      I was unaware that KFC employees relieve themselves in the batter. I did, however, have it on good authority that the Long John Silvers in Holiday Park used to have en employee that would spit his chewing tobacco in the coleslaw.

      I don’t feel that I was being condescending to the manager… I perhaps had that tone toward Panera’s new policies and advertising. Did you know that Panera Bread caters? Forgive me if I don’t want a coupon to come back & get more “healthy” soup & brown-lettuced fingerprint sandwiches served with rusty silverware.

      Again, my wife’s dinner looked delicious. Maybe it’s karma because I like to complain about food service? Perhaps I have my own demons to wrestle with.

      I did ask the general manager if I could have some corporate contact information, in order to address those clearly corporate issues. I have not yet received a reply containing that information.

      Did you know that Panera caters? I don’t need them to decide if I want healthy soup or not.

    • I also just wanted to make note of something to give you some perspective…

      Dave’s comment above is somewhat significant. Dave has this “problem” where he calls it like he sees it. This can sometimes be considered jarring or even offensive (albeit to the easily offended). He has no problem telling me when I’m crazy, and regularly reminds me of things like all I have to to is TURN OFF THE TV to prevent my brain cells from their eventual atrophy.

      If we’re both on the same page here, then I must not be too out of line.

  7. I’d rather wait 30 more seconds for my order, rather than receiving something that is sloppy and obviously expired.
    I’m sure others feel the same way.

    I find it hilarious that the guilty parties of catastrophe sandwiches are trying to defend themselves and others alike.

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  9. I certainly enjoy those who spew, “you must have no life…” when faced with something they don’t have the capacity to grasp: Let them go back to their “life” of countless hours of laziness, brain and body. Intelligent people effect change.

  10. Nico Tamberelli

    Eric. you must be a virgin. if not, take your tampon out.

  11. Nico Tamberelli

    But really. Why were you so upset by this. I know you want your hard earned money spent correctly. I agree you should have gotten it fixed, but why write a whole page about it. Just blows my mind what people waste their time on. Im sure youre one to write a comment on panera bread facebook page. other than that, i like your guitars. Now thats a good way to waste time. those guitars are actually really cool.

    • Thanks for coming back to comment, Nico. I guess I blog to vent… It’s also sort of a comment on society in general. We just accept changes to quality rather than challenge them. We accept people not taking pride in their work because it’s a low payscale or perceived as unimportant.

      As far as wasting time, I probably didn’t spend much more time writing than you did reading & commenting. Ha ha.

      Glad you dig the guitars… They probably are a much better outlet and funny for entirely different reasons like my poor playing ability.

      Do you think that there needs to be a discussion on quality in fast food & fast casual? I have several other posts… Just search here for McDonald’s.

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