Panera use to be one of my favorite places to eat. I could take the kids for a relaxed affordable meal without paying a waiter. I could meet co-workers, clients and partners and hang out. I could escape my home office and go have lunch with my computer and enjoy the atmosphere.

But Panera over the past year has been losing my business and this latest incident completely left me never wanting to return. First, let’s review the past. 5 years ago, if a bread bowl was not filled up, they would gladly fill it. If you didn’t get enough bread for your group, they’d give you another piece. If I asked for extra parmesan or croutons for my soup, they’d put some on the side. But then they stopped. And the portion sizes got smaller. In trying to be a healthier solution and keeping to lower calories (I believe is the reason), they are skimping on their portions. Their plates and bowls got smaller. Their bread bowls got smaller. And the prices went up. Take out was always missing items.

Through my frustrations, I stopped going to Panera 3 times a week and reduced it to about once a week and only because my son likes their bread bowl soups. But this last time put me over the top and Panera just lost another $50 a week from me. In the past, with 4 children, I spent over $200 a week there. But now, none of us eats there. It is overpriced, undersized, with extremely bad management.

My last visit was on my son’s birthday. We hadn’t been in a while and he really wanted a soup bread bowl. And this is what he got.

When my son got this half filled bread bowl, I immediately took it back and showed it to the manager and asked him to fill it up. He refused saying the bread sops up the liquid and that we have received the correct portion. I told him I have been ordering this exact soup for 10 years and NEVER had it this low. It was literally 4 spoonfuls! He still refused. I asked for his name and he refused to tell me his full name. Only “manager Dan”. That was all I needed to know according to him.

What is happening in the world when a restaurant, whose primary purpose it to satisfy it’s customers, acts like the 10 cents it would have costs to fill up the bowl, was more valuable then me as a client? Can a restaurant be that arrogant to think they can ignore clients, stick to the precise measurements (I’m assuming mandated by headquarters) and still stay in business?

I’m sorry to inform you Panera but if you don’t change your ways, the competition will catch up with you. They already are. And your penny pinching and rudeness to your clients isn’t going to keep people coming back.

By the way, this was the Panera in Winter Springs on Red Bug and Tuskawilla. I would not recommend it to anyone until management changes, until they start to care more about their clients then a few cents here and there, and they get rid of Manager Dan.

 

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