Monday, October 17, 2011

First thoughts on Panera: it's good, they're friendly

So before Panera opened in DCUSA, I was pretty unfamiliar. I don't think I've ever been, but most of the comments were very positive, that they had good coffee, sandwiches, and bagels -- including a cinnamon crunch bagel which basically sounds like a cinnamon roll (and has 410 calories).

I've gone there a couple times, and I must say, I like it. So far I got a turkey sandwich and a Cuban panini. Both times the sandwiches were tasty, with good, fresh-tasting ingredients and good bread. The folks working there have always been really friendly, engaging even. That's kind of surprising for customer service in DC. In the case of the panini, they were out of foccacia bread (it was almost closing time) so they apologized gave me a free drink without me asking. The folks making the sandwiches were joking around with customers too. I also got a mocha, which was fine.

You may recall that I was kind of worried about all the chains coming in the past, but if they're all like this, I don't see a problem. What are your thoughts about Panera?


  1. I agree. Its sad that we are shocked in a good way at their friendly customer service. Hope it lasts!

  2. Regarding customer service, I don't think it's shocking to find good or even great customer service in DC. As a resident, I see it everyday. What I don't see everyday, as a resident of Columbia Heights, is an iota of good customer service or sense of compassion towards one's job IN COLUMBIA HEIGHTS. Prime examples: the new IHOP & Giant.

  3. I've been there probably too much in the past week (at least four times) and each time it's been great. The cashiers/servers are competent and friendly, the food is fresh and good, and they make a concerted effort to keep the place clean. Let's hope it lasts. It's a pleasant environment and I'm happy!

  4. I've eaten at their other outlets before so I already knew I liked the food.

    Agree with Edward that the low expectations for customer service are a bit more particular to Columbia Heights versus DC writ large, but nevertheless, the service at Panera was surprisingly good.

    I would say the paragon of low service expectations is CVS, not Giant or IHOP, though. I've had some very friendly IHOP waitresses, and even those who weren't seemed only a bit overwhelmed as opposed to just indifferent.

  5. I'm from St. Louis where Panera comes from, so to say I was super excited about this addition to Columbia Heights is an understatement. I've already been there a couple of times and it is up to par! If you are unfamiliar with their menu, I would suggest doing a Pick 2 option (soup, salad, or sandwich) because their broc. cheddar soup is awesome. And yes, the cinnamon crunch bagel is to die for, especially with the honey walnut cream cheese! Oh, and sign up for the membership rewards.

  6. Been there several times (too many, as far as my waistline is concerned!) and am very pleased. The food is great as always, and I too am quite pleased with their customer service. Great addition to CH!

  7. I'm so happy they're in the neigborhood. Try their Chipotle Chicken Sandwich, its amazing.

    Better customer service than majority of places in DC!


Please don't advertise in the comments, and please enter some kind of name when you comment instead of being anonymous.

If the post is more than 28 days old, your comment must be approved first.