Life in the Real World

The 12 Types Of Interactions You Have When You Work At Panera

One of the most popular first jobs for teens is working in the food industry. Whether as a cashier, cook, or dishwasher, every gal or guy that works in the food industry has the special privilege of dealing with rude, hangry, and sometimes just plain stupid customers. As someone who has worked at Panera for over a year, I can tell you that Panera seems to draw an especially weird crowd, from oldies just wanting their coffee, to health freaks and bodybuilders; here are the 12 types of customer interactions you will experience if you ever work at Panera.

1. People who ask for gluten-free bread

Yes, this happens a lot. For some reason customers seem to think that just because we have healthier selections than most cafes that we make all of our products gluten free. And then they get mad when we have only gluten-conscious items. Anytime someone comes in looking for gluten free anything we have to explain that we are Panera BREAD, and thus there is always a risk of gluten contamination in any of our items. Seriously though, there is literally flour floating in the air everywhere.

2. The classic “Is this the fresh bread?” conversation

All Paneras bake their breads and pastries for the day the night before. Any bread that is leftover is donated to local food shelters and churches as part of our Day-End-Doughnations program. So yes, the bread is fresh. And when we run out, we really are out, not just hiding more in back.

3. Free Pastry Demanders

Part of Panera policy is to offer a free pastry to customers if we mess up their order. But some people take this way too far. I kid you not, one guy demanded a free cinnamon roll because we gave him a fork and not a spoon for his tortellini alfredo. There are always customers who try to get freebies for the stupidest reasons, so get used to it.

4. The Mom with Six Kids who All Want Mac ‘n’ Cheese

PSA: Panera mac n cheese is literally microwaved in little baggies on the line. So when you order twelve things of mac n cheese, and we only have three microwaves, it’s going to take awhile. Mac n cheese, and people who order it, are the bane of a Panera Worker’s existence. Seriously, just microwave some noodles and Velveeta at home and save yourself ten bucks.

5. “Can I have the recipe?”

I will never understand why customers think this is an appropriate question to ask. You wouldn’t walk into Smallcakes and ask for the recipe for their cupcakes, so what makes people think it’s okay to ask for the recipe for our bakery items, like the cookies? If you want to know, there are probably copycat recipes on Pinterest. As a cashier though, when people ask me this I just smile and shake my head (politely of course).

6. Customers who don’t get why it takes 3 whole minutes to make a salad

Hangry customers get very annoyed when their food takes more than a minute or two to come out. Unfortunately, this means that when working, you have to constantly apologize for the wait and explain that our food is not pre-packaged or frozen, and thus takes a few minutes to prepare. This is one of the most frequent and most frustrating complaints to deal with.

7. The dreaded “sorry we ran out” conversation

Going along with the whole freshly-made topic, Panera doesn’t keep a stash of bread or bakery items in the back. So when it’s out, it’s out. Unfortunately, not all customers understand that and there are those that will accuse you of lying, having a secret horde behind the counter, and even eating it all yourself. Just smile and wave.

8. Your Meals Don’t Come With Drinks!

Panera is expensive, and some people just don’t get that. And having to add on drinks makes it that much worse. As a cashier, you will have to apologize for the outrageous prices on an almost daily basis. Don’t be afraid to explain that all of the food is organic, all-natural, free-range, etc. to try to explain the price tag to angry customers.

See Also

9. The Drive-Thru customer who comes 30 seconds before close

Yes, you will have to take their order. Yes, it’s annoying. But it happens almost daily so just pray they don’t want a bunch of mac n cheese and get over it.

10. People who order $100 meals through the Drive-thru

I work at a Panera that has a drive-thru and catering all in one little building, so people seem to think it’s okay to order a ton of food through the drive-thru. As a drive-thru worker, these orders are obnoxious and usually hold up the line and ruin ticket times. It’s okay to tell the customer they need to park and to bring the giant bags to them, rather than have them wait at the window for 10+ minutes.

11. “What’s a you-pick-two?”

You can always tell who has never eaten at Panera before when they ask what the you-pick-two is. Luckily, it’s a lot easier to explain that you get any two half-items for a discounted price than it is to deal with complaints. After a few weeks on register you will be thankful for this easy question.

12. And finally, the good old regular

Don’t get me wrong, I love my job; but sometimes it gets really frustrating when you have a bunch of rude customers yelling at you. Thankfully, there are always a few regulars that understand you are a human and not a computer, and the quick five minute conversations with them can make it all worth it. It’s pretty cool when you can see how your quick interaction with someone can make their whole day, and they make yours. So even though a lot of Panera customers can make work exhausting, you’ll appreciate the skills you learn and people you meet.

These are just a few of the encounters you’re bound to have if you work at Panera Bread. Share your work experiences in the comments!
Featured Image Source:

Recent Posts

10 Cute CSUN Date Ideas

Love is in the air! But, where do you take that special someone at college? Specifically, where do you take…

7 hours ago

20 Dorm Hacks You’ll Wish You Knew Sooner

I’m all about making life easier and I’m sure you are too. Unfortunately, we can’t go back and redo those…

10 hours ago

The Ultimate UConn Bucket List

Everyone should have his or her own bucket list in life! Bucket lists are a fun way to give you…

14 hours ago

10 Reasons You’ll Fall In Love With Pitt At Your PittStart Session

After months of college tours, information sessions, and pros and cons lists, each of us has to make a final…

19 hours ago

10 Cute Date Ideas To Do Around UNH

Tired of the same old dinner and a movie dates? Then look no further! With its own picturesque college downtown,…

22 hours ago

20 Things Every Northeastern Student Should Know

Becoming acclimated to college, especially your freshman year, can be the tough- yet it can be the most exciting and most interesting…

1 day ago