I don’t often get out for lunch during the week. I have this stubborn, longstanding habit of eating at my desk, saving myself a little time and money in the process, but missing out on a short, healthy break away from an otherwise long day at the office.
It’s a trade-off I’m willing to make in order to cram a little more productivity into my day, a routine that’s always worked well for me.
But when I do go out to lunch these days, I almost always go to Panera Bread. There’s a location minutes away from my office in Lexington -- at 1100 Lexington Street in Waltham -- so it’s certainly convenient for me. But that’s not the only reason why I go there.
For starters, I like the food on their menu, especially the Napa Almond Chicken Salad on Sesame Semolina Signature Sandwich, the Chipotle Chicken on French Signature Hot Panini, or the Cuban Chicken on Focaccia Signature Hot Panini. Their bagels are ridiculously awesome, too. My favorite flavors are Chocolate Chip and Asiago Cheese.
I also think the customer service there is outstanding. Seriously, I’m always greeted with a smile and a positive, cheerful attitude by those who work there.
But there’s much more about Panera Bread that has led to this rave review. If you ask me, Panera Bread has the preparation and delivery of food to their customers down to a science. The restaurant is always crowded when I go there, but the line always manages to move fast. And you certainly can’t argue with the prices, which are very fair and reasonable.
I also appreciate the occasional free goodie I’m offered for being a member of MyPanera, the company's loyalty program. That’s a nice bonus. They even loaded my MyPanera card with a special surprise (a complimentary pastry or sweet) in honor of my birthday this summer.
Plus, they have free Wi-Fi at the location where I go, so it’s an excellent place to hang if you want to fire up the computer over an informal business lunch or if you just want to have a cup of coffee on your own and work on your blog.
Last but not least, this company cares. Literally. Their Panera Cares community cafes -- which you can read more about here -- have been created to help solve the problem of hunger in this country. Good for Panera Bread. And good for those who are benefiting from this philanthropic program.
It's for all these reasons that I look at Panera Bread as an outstanding restaurant, a great company and the picture of new marketing.
What about you? Where do you like to go out for lunch? What's your favorite go-to restaurant? Have you ever been to Panera Bread?
Note: This post, "The Picture of New Marketing -- Panera Bread," was initially published on the blog, A New Marketing Commentator, on Aug. 20, 2012.