Panera Bread cafes offer human interaction for even the most committed computer creature

I walked into one of our Panera Bread stores the other day and sat down in the corner to watch and learn. I didn’t do it make anyone nervous or to cause problems for associates who might not do something exactly as I would hope.

Instead, I was really just taking it all in: our associates, our food, our atmosphere and our customers. My mind was absorbing everything and I didn’t have a single agenda. Instead, I wanted to notice and learn.

The single fact that struck me was how many people sat at a booth or a table alone with a computer or an IPad. They were alone, yet they were surrounded by many others at adjacent tables or booths; and from time to time, they would acknowledge each other or exchange small talk. And sometimes, they would engage in techno speak. “How’s that IPhone 6?” one asked the other.

And at that moment, I was so happy that we’ve created a place that is warm and inviting and where people can have human interaction.

I am proud to be able to provide a space where people can find one another and even if it’s only an occasional word or two or a smile, at least it’s some human contact.

We can’t live by machines alone.

6 replies
  1. Mike S.
    Mike S. says:

    I’m glad you posted this because I’m grateful that the Paneras around me are a place where I feel comfortable “planting” for awhile with my laptop. Our other coffee shops have very limited space and I feel funny hanging around a restaurant after much I’m done eating. Libraries are good, but are the hours are more limited. Paneras is nice because I don’t have to spend a ton of money and there’s enough room that I don’t feel like I’m taking up space.

    Reply
  2. Jim Boyer
    Jim Boyer says:

    I’m happy to see that others visit Panera for the same reasons that I’m a frequent customer–you’ve built a place where all feel welcome, where the food is great, and the atmosphere is conducive to conversation and / or getting work done from morning to night.

    No matter where I am in the country, East Coast, West Coast, or in between, I know that I can go to Panera and not feel rushed, or like an intruder on the local scene.

    Thank you!

    Jim

    Reply
  3. Ron Veenker
    Ron Veenker says:

    Sam: We live in a more remote part of SE North Carolina but we are about an hour from Wilmington where we occasionally go for necessities. We look forward to those trips because we always find our way to one of your two stores there. I’m writing you from Erie PA right now where we are spending several days on business. Every morning finds us at your West 12th location and I am writing this using your WiFi. Wait, I just got a text message from my brother-in-law: “Meet you at Panera at 10:30” Well, you get the idea. Driving from NC to PA we never worry about finding a store. Bridgeport WV is our regular stop. After 5 days in Erie, I recognize the “regulars” and notice exactly what you do: computers, other devices everywhere, but mostly people relating to people. I always feel welcome and at home wherever and whenever I stop at Panera Bread.
    Thanks for the great work you do, especially your charities—
    Ron Veenker

    Reply

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