Go ahead, push the button… I dare you.


You know I hate public restrooms.  This sign may be a wave of the future.  Think it’s a good idea?  Think it will work?  Is it too easy to abuse?

Cleanliness is important to all of us...

Intimidating button…

I saw a full garbage can, & thought about pressing the button…but thought it may only be for emergencies not maintenance.  I didn’t want to be the guy that whined about the garbage can being full.  Then again, I’d rather empty a trash bag than pick it up off of the floor if I were an employee there.

Is a button the way to solve all of your bathroom problems? This reminded me of the pull-strings in hospital bathrooms.  Ha ha.  If you find one of these buttons, I dare you to push it & yell “I need someone to wipe!”

Boston Market ups the pressure… (a.k.a. What now, Panera Bread?)


Insanity.

http://twitter.com/#!/W_a_L_D/status/136910586947715072

That’s right.  Boston Market not only reached out via my contact form thanks to Facebook, but also had the cojones to do this…

Boston Market RT!

Boston Market RT!

I still haven’t received a reply to my email to Mr. Wakabayashi, but what now Panera Bread? What now?  Clearly, this will pan out to be a bigger rivalry than Neil Young vs. Skynrd, or East Coast Rap vs. West Coast Rap.  Maybe even bigger than me vs. the people that think I’m McDonald’s (At Least Mr. Wakabayashi used my contact form correctly!)

http://twitter.com/#!/W_a_L_D/status/137169033266077696

http://twitter.com/#!/bostonmarket/status/137212008138424321

If you have no idea what’s going on, or if you work for Panera Bread.  You can catch up here…

In other news, did you know that they both cater?  I wish someone would have told me.

Panera Bread (Scott Twp. Greentree Road) on UrbanspoonI actually stopped at the local Panera the other night because the wife was sick and wanted some of that cheese-broccoli soup.  I went in to get some to go, and got myself a half of a turkey sandwich and a cup of the chicken noodle.

The employee (a young girl, of course) at the counter was quite friendly, asked if I wanted lettuce tomato or onion on the sandwich, and even asked if I wanted mustard and/or mayo.  Clearly, someone went over new procedures.  Sadly, I asked for lettuce & tomato… and got neither, but I did get mustard and mayo.  I applaud the effort, and shame on me for not checking before I left the store.

I have to say, after my initial complaint, they have totally stepped it up service-wise.  I still call shenanigans on the new soup.  They ought to let sales do the talking… OFFER BOTH.  It’s certainly a popular item.  Let the consumers decide if they want a great-tasting soup… or the crappy flat-noodled healthy soup.  Clearly, as a leader in the Fast Casual industry, you can afford to test the proverbial waters?  I think more changes have been made, but it’s still not the old soup.  Shenanigans.

Also, I counted 3 signs within  a span of about 8 feet on the counter where you wait for your order advertising the catering… and the pop machine still does it too.  I think the receipt may have even said something about it.

I spend far too much time contemplating fast food & fast casual dining.  If only I could save time buy purchasing already prepared meals.  Does anyone out there do that?

New Catering Advertisement Opportunities! (for Boston Market & Panera Bread)


I’m just sayin’.

Panera Bread  - vs. -  Boston Market

Panera Bread - vs. - Boston Market

From: Waldo Lunar <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, Nov 4, 2011
Subject: New Catering Advertisement Opportunities!
To: & Cc:  A bunch of Panera & Boston Market Employees

Hello friends at Boston Market & Panera Bread,

I assume that the lack of response to my last email about an all-out catering battle at my house was ill-received.  I didn’t get any interest from either camp, or even any kind of acknowledgement of my email.  Not even a coupon.  Isn’t that the typical response?  “Throw ’em a coupon!”  Color me disappointed.

No reply is rather rude, don’t you think?  Batman movie night has come & gone.  We dutifully provided a favorable dining experience to our guests thanks to an incredible local pizza shop.  Roasted red peppers as a pizza topping?  A hit all around, I tell you!  Subs with a homemade feel cut in to bite-size appetizers were also quite delicious.

I’m not sure why neither Panera Bread or Boston Market was willing to enter my catering battle royale.  It would have been an exciting opportunity for both of you.  I realize now… that you need help with forward thinking.  You missed this opportunity to advertise your catering and fight for my dollar.

I believe that I may have come around to your way of thinking.  Perhaps I need to fight for your dollar.  I previously saw advertisements on the pop machine and all over the windows as borderline obscene… but why stop at the border, friends?  Let’s trample the border, deface it on our way through, and not look back!  I have some ideas that you may find attractive.  I really look forward to your feedback.  (Don’t give me any shenanigans about unsolicited ideas and what-not, we’re all friends here.)

  • Advertising on the napkins.  You already do it on the receipts, walls, & windows.  Subway uses their napkins for nutrition information.  Show them up, advertise!  Think of all that clean wasted ad space ripe for the slinging of your delicious wares.  Were one ambitious, this could extend to the “to go” sandwich wrappings, the fancy new plates that you’re both using, and even the trays.  Hell, why not the drink cups?
  • Guerrilla advertising. You could have employees go into your parking lot at regular intervals, and put flyers under the windshield wipers of cars.  If you really wanna get crazy, try bumper stickers!  People would love decorations on their autos.
  • Me.  Send me a T-shirt that advertises your catering services.  I play in a band.  I’ll wear it to shows.  The throngs of bar patrons who rock out with me on a regular basis will be sure to flock to the nearest Panera Bread or Boston Market location.  I might be able to convince my band-mates to do the same.  If we’d like to get really crazy, may I offer to sell my forehead as a billboard?
  • Paystubs.  Your employees get paid right?  Get that money back!  Advertise your catering services on their pay-stubs, and any communications that you need to send.  There’s room on that W2 envelope for a 10% off catering coupon.
  • Right on the food itself.  This is the one that excites me the most!  You’ve seen the toasters that produce an image of Darth Vader, and the irons that brand your initials on to a steak, right?  There are also printers that print right on things like rice paper & cakes.  Why not take advantage of this technology?  Think about it.  Full color printing on wraps?  Toasty images on buns, bread, & bagels?  Delicious meat branded with confidence, demanding that you pick up a catering menu.  It’s never been done.  It’s opulent.  It’s genius.  (If I do say so myself.)

So, what do you think?  Can I help in this new advertising adventure?  These are the next steps in the evolution of promulgation.  Let’s move onward and upward, into uncharted catering promotional territory.  It will be an onslaught to the senses, and an influx in revenue for all involved.  I’m excited for this venture, and especially excited to get some feedback from everyone involved.

Excelsoir!
-Waldo Lunar
[ -YOUR AD COULD BE HERE- ]

incessant emails / incessant advertising

incessant emails / incessant advertising

Further Reading:

Panera responds to my insanity, so I write back…


So after my last Panera-related post, I went a little goofy. I put a post on their Facebook wall

http://www.facebook.com/panerabread/posts/124723480954835

Found this part of that amusing:

…the corporate office (or in your case the corporate office for our franchise partner who operates bakery-cafes in the Pittsburgh area) reviews your email before contacting and working closely with the general manager to try to resolve the issue.

I also tweeted a few times…

http://twitter.com/#!/AiXeLsyD13/status/96920982714990592

http://twitter.com/#!/AiXeLsyD13/status/96949713940643841

…and got this DM from them:

Panera Breadpanerabread Hey, thx for sharing feedback through website. Sorry about your disappointing experience, our CS team is looking into & will be in touch.

Heh.

I got this email from the local general manager…

From: 3497 <panera3497@covelli.com>
To: [me]
Sent: Friday, July 29, 2011 10:50 AM
Subject: Contact Us

Dear Mr. Carroll,

I would like to introduce myself as Carrie Janota, the General Manager at the Greentree Panera Bread. I appreciate all your feedback and coaching. Your response will definitely help us with current and future training to associates, especially this time of year. The company has made several changes with menu items that you expressed in your comments. First, our turkey is now presliced so the consistency is different than when we sliced it in house. We also changed the recipe of our chicken noodle soup, which makes it all natural. Another healthy initiative we have taken is the removal of sauces on all cafe sandwiches. We offer packets of mayo and mustard at the condiment bar or you are welcomed to inform the cashier that you would like the condiments on the sandwich and we will gladly put them on for you. The “no onions” is our mistake and I would like to compensate you for a free meal next time you visit a Panera Bread. If you could please send me your address, I will gladly put the coupon in the mail for you. Again, thank you for your input, I use all issues as a learning tools for our associates.

Carrie Janota
General Manager

So, this is what I wrote back to them…

-餧馕馒-

Thank you Ms. Janota,

You certainly can address me as “Eric”, not “Mr. Carroll”. I appreciate your incredibly rapid and well-stated response to my experience yesterday. I was going out of my mind in disbelief. I would suggest that Panera spend more time asking/telling customers about changes, and less time advertising your catering services. I mean, really… on the pop machine, you’re advertising the catering service? What about a nice big poster that says… “WARNING: WE CHANGED THE TASTY NOODLES IN THAT SOUP THAT YOU LIKE, THE MEAT ON OUR SANDWICHES, AND HAVE DECIDED TO FORGO MUSTARD.” (Or even a nice traditional Coke or Pepsi logo?)

Boston Market is annoying/obnoxious with advertising their catering too. I get it. You guys cater. I know this. I’m here for dinner. You don’t need to advertise for a place that I’m already in. Imagine going into Walmart & seeing a sign in every aisle that advertises the stuff in the next aisle. This could get quote old quite quickly.

  • Attn: Panera – I don’t host any lunch parties or have a need for sandwich rings.
  • Attn: Boston Market – I can cook my own Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner.
  • Attn: Bob Evans – I can handle making my own lasagna or meatloaf.
  • Attn: Chick-fil-A – The only thing I’d do with a tray full of nuggets is eat them all myself.
Since you took the time to write, and you’re obviously concerned and well-written, I’d like to address my concerns & the new issues raised more specifically.

The Onion
– This is not a big deal. I generally don’t even say anything & just take the onion off myself. This is the first time I was ever asked “Lettuce, tomato, & onion?” in a Panera. So, I said “Lettuce & tomato, no onion please.” This is the only reason I took note. It also said on my receipt “NO ONION” – so the cashier took the effort to note it, and the sandwich-maker had to read & ignore it. Just odd. Again, this is nothing that should ruin one’s day.

The Turkey – I call shenanigans. Any foodie will tell you there’s a world of difference between lunch-meat turkey and the freshly-sliced real thing. Why would Panera decide to sacrifice quality like this? Does it save time? Does it save money? Certainly it can’t be healthier… isn’t pre-packaged lunch-meat loaded with salt & preservatives? Imagine my surprise upon looking at my $6 half-sandwich full of lunch-meat where I had expected (and previously received) actual turkey. Where was my warning of this upon ordering? I certainly didn’t get the proverbial memo here. At least there’s no confirmation of turkeys with gold nuggets in their gizzards and fine wine in their gullets. Although, I didn’t get a staunch denial.

The Lettuce & Tomato – Are Panera employees encouraged to look at the ingredients before placing them on sandwiches? Really, that’s all that would be needed to prevent the placement of brown lettuce & green tomatoes. A general rule of thumb could be “If you were going to make yourself a sandwich, would you use this?”

The lack of any condiments – Again, list this in the “things that would be nice to know before I placed my order, or at the very least as I was placing my order” category. I liked the previous dressing/sauce whatever you want to call it, and it was certainly different from the straight mayo or spicy brown mustard available by the drinks (& catering advertisement). Is this really a “healthy” option or a money-saving option? I’m reminded of the “removing one olive from every salad” story with American Airlines. It saved them a rumored $40,000. I imagine all of this no-more-condiments stuff adding up to a HUGE savings for Panera… but my sandwich didn’t get cheaper, did it? No passing along the savings? (I think Steak ‘n’ Shake has done this too… their salads used to be nice-sized with cherry tomatoes… now they’re small & have tomato slices.)

The mysterious thumbprint – The noted lack of condiments has me even more concerned about the yellow thumbprint that was on the top of my sandwich. I had just assumed it was some of the condiment that was supposed to go on the inside. I ripped this portion out of the top of my sandwich before eating, to the bewilderment of my eye-rolling yet tolerant-to-my-neuroses wife. This leads me to wonder what the yellow stuff on my sandwich was… if not mustard, was it some of her broccoli cheddar soup? If so, this is incredibly alarming because it could have easily been clam chowder… and I’m highly allergic to shellfish. How is soup on the sandwich board or my sandwich when it wasn’t even my soup? I suggest you educate your employees on allergens & cross-contamination. Barring all that… it’s just a little gross. That could have been a big yellow booger for all I know.

The healthy soup – Pardon me if I laugh at the “all natural” expression. While I understand the meaning, visions of a supernatural soup come to mind. Was the prior soup possessed by demons? The noodles certainly were homemade-looking and delicious. Were they the result of a tasty pact with the devil or an ancient spell? Did the ingredients float into the bowl themselves? I don’t know what the tiny paper-thin pasta squares in the new soup are, but they are a Ford Focus to the previous soup’s BMW 7 Series. They’re not whole-grain pasta, are they? I hate whole-grain pasta. If this soup was a state, the broth were the land-mass and the chicken bits & noodle-like squares were people… it would be Alaska or Wyoming. Do you see what I’m saying? (Actually, the noodles might be the people, and the chicken may be an endangered species living within that state… but I’ve already pushed that metaphor too far.) I’m not entirely sure if this is the fault of the soup-ladeler or the soup recipe. As far as healthy vs. tasty in soup, I suggest you look up news articles related to Campbell’s. They’re putting salt back into soup to boost sales. I see from your corporate Facebook page that this is apparently an issue that has ruffled some feathers. Perhaps a shift back is in order?

The rusty knife – Poop happens. Have the dishwasher look over some stuff. I’d throw out the rusty ones. This rust was quite prominent on the handle of the butter knife, in the details of the design.


Thank you for your time, I hope you can use my input to your advantage… for your team, and perhaps passed on to a corporate level. I’d like to respectfully decline a free meal. I don’t write these sort of emails in order to get free food… and I’m skeptical of any coupons/certificates flagging me as “oh, here’s that guy”. I may even be done with Panera bread for a while. Bedsides the potentially scary cross-contamination and general utensil-cleanliness issues, our philosophies don’t seem to mesh well. I don’t need you to make health decisions for me, I need you to give me quality meals at the prices you demand. Your new more healthy less tasty soup and lack of condiments disturbs me, and apparently your quality standards aren’t the same as mine at your current menu prices.

I’d suggest taking some of the money saved from condiment rationing, smaller noodles, & catering advertising… and funneling it into a survey system to find out what your consumers want, or at the very least making signs or T-shirts that say “We’re holding the mustard unless you tell us not to!” or “New soup! Less noodles & chicken, but no ghosts!” It would also be money well spent on allergy training or buying new non-rusty silverware. Do you have any corporate contacts whom with I could perhaps take up this discussion?


Supernatural soup supporter,
-Eric

?sretac arenaP taht wonk uoy diD .seitilibasid gninrael fo nuf ekam ot ynnuf ton yllaer s’tI

-餧馕馒-

I for one can’t wait for a reply.

Panera Bread (Scott Twp. Greentree Road) on Urbanspoon

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.

Panera Bread (Scott Twp. Greentree Road) on Urbanspoon

Wendy’s in Dormont (Pittsburgh, PA) – W. LIBERTY #5


Heh. This is an older amusing one that wasn’t covered in my post about past W(aL)D insanity.

This one isn’t really completely in the W(aL)D category, as it’s a legitimate complaint… but still, it’s ridiculous enough to share. Below is the my initial email regarding the incident, and I actually broke my “no calls” rule to talk to a regional manager who was not amused.

You can see what she had to say as it all played out in a thread at PittsburghBeat.com.

At any rate, it pays to make problems like this known.

Enjoy!

-mE.
.seitilibasid gninrael fo nuf ekam ot ynnuf ton yllaer s’tI

Forwarded Message —-
From: Eric Carroll <me@myaddre.ss>
To: dnstech@wendys.com; dnsadmin@wendys.com
Sent: Mon, January 26, 2009 11:45:04 AM
Subject: Wendy’s in Dormont (Pittsburgh, PA) – W. LIBERTY #5

Hello,

I’d like to share with you a review of my experience at a local Wendy’s (W. LIBERTY #5 according to the Wendy’s store locator), also posted on UrbanSpoon.com. I don’t have very many “bad” reviews up, but this Wendy’s location has gone slow and messed up my order countless times.

I’d like to know how Wendy’s as a corporation feels about restaurants like this, and what (if any) measures are taken by corporate to see that this kind of thing doesn’t go on.

The full text of my review can be viewed here: http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/23/1346715/restaurant/Far-South-South-Hills/Wendys-Old-Fashioned-Hamburgers-Dormont-Pittsburgh

But I will also post it here for your consideration:

4084prime

“Dave Thomas would be ashamed…” by ERiC AiXeLsyD (63 reviews)

January 26, 2009 – Doesn’t like it – Seriously. I know I”ve said these words before about McDonald’s… I get that it’s only fast food, it’s cheap, and that I shouldn’t expect much… but holy cow, is this consistently one of the slowest “fast food” restaurants that I’ve ever been to. Of course, like an idiot, I keep going back hoping that it might someday be an actual convenience. Let me share with you my latest adventure…

Sunday morning, my wife & I were on our way out to my Mom’s house in the ‘Burbs… so we thought we’d get a quick bite to eat. It was nearing the 11:00am mark, so I knew we were going to hit the breakfast/lunch changeover. We skipped the McDormontonald’s because the drive-thru line looked like rush hour in the Liberty tubes. Thankfully, Wendy’s appeared to be a ghost town. There was hardly anyone inside, and there was one car ahead of us in the drive-thru but they were all the way up at the window.

As we pulled up to the speaker to place our order, I asked if they were serving breakfast or lunch, & was informed that they were serving both. So, I ordered the breakfast chicken sandwich combo, and the wife ordered the #2 bacon panini combo.

After receiving the order in what would be considered a long wait in a normal fast food environment but translated to remarkably quick at this location, I pulled into a nearby spot to inspect the goods. (Sadly, a must any more.)We discovered that my order was fine, but the wife had received a sausage panini instead of the ordered bacon panini. I checked the receipt to see if I had mis-ordered the # of the combo. Nope. The receipt clearly stated BACON in that nifty dot-matrix receipt font.

My wife’s not a big fan of sausage patties, and she was reluctantly leaning toward just eating it because time was of the essence. I know I like to eat what I ordered & paid for, so I went inside to get what I thought would be a simple swap-out.

Oh my, was I wrong.

My first encounter was with the young girl at the cash register. I politely stated that we had just gone through the drive-thru and that I wanted to exchange the sausage panini that we had received for the bacon one that we ordered.

I was told that breakfast was over & that hey couldn’t make a bacon one. After a slight pause of disbelief and bewilderment, I told her that I had just been handed the sandwich less that a minute ago through the drive-thru window… and it had been made just seconds before that.

She then yelled for her manager, and I stepped aside so she could help the next customer.

Now, while never working at a fast food establishment, I do understand that changeover time is changeover time… something to do with eggs on the cooking surface and kitchen setup and all sorts of things that are surely beyond my comprehension as the average fast food consumer.

After a wait the manager (coincidentally the very same person who handed me the order through the drive-thru window) came over and I again explained my situation… and he looked at me. Yes. Just stared blankly at me. For an awkwardly long time. I actually started to wonder if he understood English & was capable of hearing. Compelled to break the silence, I even showed him the receipt that clearly said BACON. All caps. No confusion!

Again, I was met with “we’re serving lunch now, we can’t make that”. OK. I understand. I get that. The point now is what can you do for me?

I asked if I could get something else as compensation, and/or get my money back. (I think I was growing visibly frustrated by this point.)

I called the wife, explained to her the complexity of the situation, and she decided upon a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger. So, I asked for one of those… and waited… and waited… While a guy who had gone in line in front of me had ordered during my exchange with the manager was waiting too.

After a while he exclaimed with multiple expletives that it was a ridiculously long wait, and how it was un-f’n-believable that a fast food restaurant with 3 people in it and a packed kitchen could go so slow.

I could hardly contain my laughter as I was also driven to the limits of my patience.

After what was surely sufficient time to cook & assemble 20 Jr. Bacon cheeseburgers, I received that, AND my money back for the sausage panini (which was now in the trash right behind the counter). So, I guess I got a free cheeseburger, hash browns & a drink.

I never did get any kind of apology, or admittance that they had messed up the order. (Which bewilders me that one can read bacon off of a screen and put down sausage… but I’m certainly not above making mistakes… so I can’t fault anyone for that.)

I just find it amazing that they weren’t apologizing from the start and presenting a solution instead of waiting for me to come up with one.

You’d think they’d have a “keep the customer happy” policy in place. Don’t they teach you any of this when you go to school to be a manager at Wendy’s?Take mom n’ pop shops… if they screw up an order or take too long, they’d give you a discount or a free drink or a coupon for next time… and they’re certainly taking more of a profit hit than a chain that would do the same thing.

At any rate, don’t go to Wendy’s in Dormont if you’re in a hurry, or if you actually want what you ordered.

I like Wendy’s. I grew up eating at the one in Murrysville, I frequent the one in Canonsburg for lunch. You have decent food for a cheap price, and I generally feel that the quality is better than that of other fast food chains.

I’d love to be able to eat peacefully and grab a quick bite to eat at the Wendy’s closest to where I live.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on my experience, and I look forward to your reply.

Thank you for your time, and listening to my story.

-Eric Carroll

me@myaddre.ss

Insanity.

Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers (Dormont) on Urbanspoon