Ode to Panera – thanks for the great office space.

by | November 22, 2006 | 8 Comments

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Panera Bread currently operates four locations in the metro area. To find them, their contact info, and other great stuff, you can visit their website.

As I’ve said before, I much prefer local restaurants. But I’ve got to give credit when a chain restaurant really goes above and beyond. In the case of Panera Bread, I feel like I pretty much owe them some recognition considering that they’ve given me thousands of hours of great office space, virtually rent free.


You see, I’m actually at Panera right now, working on my laptop on their free wireless internet network. I like to get up early every day and get some personal work done before heading into the office. A while back, I was self-employed, and I’d spend even more time here, sometimes using their space for entire days at a time. Sure, I’d buy lunch here, but that’s a pretty good rate for 8 hours of rent. Especially when the rest of the time I’m just working and making use of free iced tea refills.

Since moving back to Oklahoma City, I’ve looked around for a local alternative to fill my early morning office / cafe need. But I haven’t found anything better than Panera yet. And here’s why:

Hours of Operation. Panera opens at 6am every day and stays open until 8pm or 9pm. It’s just hard to beat that availability. I have yet to find a local alternative that opens at 6am. The closest I’ve found is 6:30 and when you’ve only got until 8, that extra 30 minutes makes a world of difference.

Food. As opposed to Starbucks or other coffee shop options, Panera serves real food. And the food is great. The multitude of bagel options for breakfast are creative, made with quality ingredients and prepared well everyday by someone who must get here at 3am or something to get all of this baking done. Even better, if you’re around for lunch or dinner, there are great sandwiches, soups, salads and now some artisan pizza in the evenings. It’s nice to have a place that can satisfy at any time of day.

Free wireless internet. A few years ago, someone up at Panera headquarters must have made what I consider to be the most brilliant decision ever — to offer free wireless internet in their stores. It’s not only free, there’s even a support number to call if you have trouble (ask for the internet brochure). Now that’s service! A reliable, high-quality wireless network at no cost. This single offering has earned them my loyalty and repeat business and I’m sure there are many others out there who feel the same way. Way to go, guys!

Iced tea. Their tea is great, and they fill up two huge containers of it on their drink station so they never run out. When you’re officing at Panera, $1.50 or so buys you a whole days’ worth.

I’d love to find a local alternative that can rival these offerings for my morning ritual. If you know of one, leave a comment and let me know. But even if I find one, I doubt I’ll leave Panera completely. I’ll have to visit them at least once a week. They’ve just been too good to me.

Panera Bread on Urbanspoon Panera Bread on Urbanspoon Panera Bread on Urbanspoon Panera Bread on Urbanspoon Panera Bread on Urbanspoon Panera Bread on Urbanspoon Panera Bread on Urbanspoon

This article was posted by Tim Wall on Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006. It is filed under:

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  • Mark Bledsoe says:
    November 6th, 2007 at 11:13 pm   

    The Java Dave’s on 10th street is pretty good, the Old School Bagel Cafe on North May is a great choice as well.

  • Tami Hayes says:
    July 27th, 2008 at 8:30 pm   

    Panera Bread is my favorite restaurant. You guys rock.

  • Gloria S says:
    October 16th, 2008 at 10:02 am   

    I love the bread and pastries at Panera Bread–great atmosphere also.

  • A.K. Swan says:
    February 27th, 2009 at 12:28 am   

    Vintage Coffee @ 150th & Western
    * opens at 6am monday thru Saturday
    * food – baked goods from brown’s bakery & kolaches from Kolache Kitchen
    * free wi-fi – no time limits, ever. no passwords.
    * free brewed coffee refills (up to about a gallon or so, and then we’ll start charging you again
    * tea is brewed fresh for every cup, hot or cold. but if you keep your tea bag it can be reused sometimes
    * tables, couches, bar stools – your choice
    * organic and fairly traded coffee, espresso and teas – all of them
    * locally owned
    * the best free office space in okc or edmond

    we expect to see you monday morning promptly at 6am!

  • Georgie says:
    March 18th, 2009 at 1:41 pm   

    Like Panera-love Old School Bagel Cafe.

  • Jason says:
    September 22nd, 2010 at 12:39 pm   

    I always find something I like at Panera. We usually hit the one at SW 104th and Penn. Always a nice crowd there. Soups are great!!

  • Rick says:
    January 25th, 2011 at 12:22 pm   

    The food and pastries at every Panera I’ve gone to is HORRIBLE. I don’t go to them anymore because the places are poorly run. The lobby area is always dirty, the staff look confused and the pastries are inedible. I’ve been to the Norman location, and a few OKC locations and it seems its pretty consistent. I am scratching my head as to why these places are so busy, maybe its the free wifi?

  • Dennis Germenis says:
    June 18th, 2012 at 9:00 am   

    Very accurate, Tim. Good review.

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