Healthy Restaurant Review: Panera Bread

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Panera Bread

Panera Bread is a fast casual restaurant that serves soups, sandwiches, coffee, and pastries.  In 2015, there were 1,972 Panera outlets and stores, up from 1,880 the year before.  This restaurant chain caters to people who want healthy meals served up fast. The company has been committed to only serve "clean ingredients." In January of 2017, Panera Bread released a statement that its U.S. food menu was free of artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives. 

Panera Bread is a publicly traded company. The franchise headquarters is in Sunset Hills, Missouri. Panera revenue is reported to be close to $2 billion. The company employs approximately 40,100 people.  Panera Bread has had rapid growth and success within the last few years, and is growing every day.

Panera Bread is most well-known by consumers for their bakery-cafe.  When you walk in a Panera, you will see a wide variety of pastries and baked goods, such as croissants, bagels, cookies, scones, muffins, and brownies. Perhaps they are most famous, though, for their artisan breads that are baked fresh each morning.  

Some locations participate in a program that donates their unsold baked goods to local charities when they close each day.  In addition to the bakery goods, Panera has a regular menu for dine-in or takeout that is broken down into the following categories: Sandwiches, Paninis, Pastas, Soups & more, Flatbreads, Salads and Side choices.  They also have a children's menu called Panera Kids along with drinks that include: fruit smoothies, frozen drinks, iced drinks, coffee, tea, lemonade, espresso drinks, lattes, and hot chocolate.

There are no Panera Restaurants in Utah, Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, or Wyoming.

Pros


  • They use clean ingredients
  • The artisan breads are baked fresh each day
  • The menu has a wide range of healthy ingredients
  • Desserts are on the menu

Cons


  •  Many of their menu choices are high in sodium
  •  Do not have locations in all of the states

What Other People Are Saying

Panera Bread

I found mixed reviews about Panera Bread.  There were many good reviews, and some bad reviews. The most frequent complaint was not about the food, but about how Panera would get orders wrong.  For the most part, though, the reviews about Panera Bread were mostly positive.  

Online Ordering

The online ordering feature is popular with people because it makes take out even faster and easier.  A customer tells about why she liked this feature,

"Last night, my boyfriend and I placed an order through the online system. I really love this feature because it makes getting food so incredibly easy - just submit the order and payment online, and ten minutes later you can grab your food from a shelf they have sitting near the entrance. No waiting in line to order or get your food. If you are planning to take your food home anyways, this is definitely the way to go."

Delivery

Panera also offers delivery to your home.  This is a nice feature for people who can't get out or just don't feel like driving to get a meal.

People Share Their Favorite Menu Items

One of the most popular things written about in reviews that I read, was that people would share their favorite menu items.  Here is one example, and why people love Panera,

"I enjoy the 'Bacon Turkey Bravo' sandwich at Panera Bread. It's one of my favorite treats after a long day of shopping. My turkey bravo is always so fresh. The meat was yummy and the lettuce and tomato so fresh and so clean."

What You'll Spend

Panera Bread

Panera Bread prices are a bit higher than some fast foods such as McDonalds, but not so high to be considered fine dining prices.  Panera has middle of the road pricing for a fast casual restaurant. The price of menu items do vary location by location.

Some people found that the prices were actually comparable to fast food.  One satisfied customer shared this,

"Pretty good value.  My husband and I got two very filling sandwiches with chips for $15.00 total - that's comparable to fast food prices, but better in quality."

Customer Service

Panera Bread

The majority of comments about Panera's customer support were positive. The reviews left by customers reflect the fact that customers are treated well. Most often waiting times are low.

The following comment is typical of the reviews that I found about customer service at Panera Restaurants: 

"First things first the energy was amazing when I walked into store, secondly the smell and cleanliness of the location was immaculate, beyond 5 stars surpassing all expectations. With that being said, to top off the food is always prepared in a timely manner and always reaches each table fresh and hot."

My Conclusion 

Panera Bread is a fast casual restaurant chain that caters to people who want healthy meals on the go.  They are most popular for their fresh baked artisan breads and pastries. They also serve up soups, salads, sandwiches, and desserts. Panera's pricing is not high, yet not as low as fast food restaurants such as McDonalds.  For the most part, Panera Bread gets good reviews in all areas from menu choices, food quality, to customer service. The only downfall I can see is that they don't locations in all of the states. I hope that my review can help you to find a new healthy restaurant to try out!

For more reviews and information, check out our list of the Top 10 Healthiest Restaurants of 2018.

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Mariann Foster is one of our content writers here at OurStart. Mariann is a certified reading specialist who enjoys homeschooling her daughter and taking care of her alpacas in her spare time. She lives in Wyoming on an alpaca farm with her daughter and their various collection of big and small animals. Being a mother is her greatest gift, so she hopes she can help to encourage other moms through her writing.

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