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    Friday, May 20, 2005

    Scenes From The Mall

    I ate lunch at Panera Bread today.

    I don’t usually eat lunch at Panera Bread. For one thing, I don’t usually have the car to go to the mall to be able to eat lunch at Panera Bread. For another, I don’t really care for Panera Bread all that much.

    But with Lesa out of town, I had the car. I also had to get some stuff at Target, and while I could have waited until tomorrow and taken the boys, then I would have had to spend a half hour in the toy aisle. So I went today.

    Further, I had a gift card from Panera Bread that I got from Young Footliters for directing The Poet and the Rent. So, I thought to myself, why not use some of it.

    So I did.

    Now, I don’t know if there are Panera Breads where you live. And when I say you, I mean my non-Iowa readers. I think it’s primarily a Midwest chain, its origins in either Kansas City or St. Louis. I suppose that’s information I could glean from their Web site, but doing that search would indicate a level of caring about the answer that bears no relation to my actual level of caring about the answer. So I won’t.

    But if you don’t have a Panera Bread, you do. It’s your standard upscale deli with fancy-schmancy sandwiches, salads, soups, pastries, and coffees. Panera Bread is the sort of place that has table tents that say things like:

    All-natural chicken tastes better because it is raised to taste better. Chickens live stress-free with plenty of fresh air and clean water to help them grow at a more natural pace. With plenty of exercise, they don’t require antibiotics and they develop firm, tender meat.

    Like I said, if you don’t have a Panera Bread, you have someplace that has something like that on its table tents. Everyone does. I’m betting even Buggy does, and she lives in Bumfuck, Texas.

    (By the way, all that description is missing is something about the intellectual stimulation the chickens receive. And yes, I stole the table tent, thank you very much.)

    So that’s why I generally avoid Panera Bread, and why I wouldn’t have gone if I didn’t have the gift card. (Also by the way, if the gift card had been from Best Buy, it wouldn’t have gone unused since the first weekend in March. But I digress.) Because here’s the thing.

    Don’t try to sell me your sandwich. Don’t try to craft loving language to entice me. Don’t give me marketing twaddle. Just tell me what’s in it. If it sounds good, I’ll try it. If it tastes good, I’ll get it again. If it’s really good, I’ll say to my friends “Hey you know what’s good? The peppercorn steak sandwich at Panera.” And if it isn’t good, all the flowery language in the world won’t get me to order it again.

    Cause that’s what’s important. A recent survey found that 90% of the people who took the survey felt a friend’s recommendation was the most important factor when determining to try a new restaurant. To be fair, the other 10% thought I was “making that up” and that “no actual such survey exists” and “Dweeze is pulling stuff out of his ass again.” But who cares what those losers think?

    By the way, if you’re going to Panera? Skip the peppercorn steak sandwich and get something else.

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