Real Estate Agent with Falcon Property Company


My house is often full of confusion.  People are always coming and going, and sometimes it’s hard for me to concentrate because they want to ask me “just one more question.”  A 90 year old mother, a developmentally delayed daughter, nieces, daughters stopping by, grandkids.  I love them ALL . . . but sometimes I just want to be alone to WRITE.  I tend to deal best with life issues if I can write about them and really understand and get to the bottom of them, and right now there are a few of those issues that need my attention. 

Panera Bread SUCKSSo I packed up my computer to a chorus of “What’s wrong with writing in your office upstairs?” or “When will you be home?” or “We’ll leave you alone if you stay,” and similar refrains.  Panera Bread is about a block away from home, and being in an out-of-the-way location, it is never generally busy.  I will often meet people there for coffee, but today I decided it would be a good place to write. 

I set up my computer, got all settled in, went and ordered lunch and coffee, waited 15 minutes to get my order, and then sat down to get seriously involved in some things that I have been wanting to write about.  Just as I was unwinding and emoting and getting down to the nitty gritty of what I had been looking for – nothing . . . no connection, no explanation.  

When I tried to reconnect, a sign flashed on my computer that said my 30 minutes of free WiFi are now expired.  Thank you for coming to Panera Bread but please be Starbucksconsiderate of others who might want to sit down and enjoy the surroundings.  What??  Seriously??  In the middle of what I’m doing you just shut me down with no warning after 30 MINUTES?  REALLY?

So I packed up my bag and came to my ever-faithful Starbucks.  Always friendly, always inviting, always glad to have you come and stay a while.  However, I must admit that I am having a hard time concentrating because I know all of the old Beatles’ songs playing in the background.  Hard not to mentally sing along to some of my old favorites as I write ~ Eleanor Rigby, The Night Before, If I Needed Someone, Norwegian Wood, Michelle, Girl, Tax Man, Eight Days a Week, Ticket to Ride, HELPTime to break out the earphones.  Great music . . . great people . . . time to concentrate.

In the spirit of friendship and fairness and camaraderie, Katerina Gasset has posted a Panera Bread Counterpoint to this article.  Enjoy!

Comments (105)

Cheryl Ritchie
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Huntingtown, MD
Southern Maryland 301-980-7566

I have the exact opposite experience with Panera in Calvert County MD. They treat me like family so I am in and out of there between appointments sometimes once or twice a day. Starbucks, too. They are fantastic here.

Sep 26, 2011 12:11 AM
Heather Littrell
Keller Williams - North Concord, NC
ABR,GRI,SRES Cabarrus County NC

How funny to me all of these comments on sitting in Starbucks and Panera.  I guess I am way too ADD to to do this.  I would never try to work in these places.  I guess my first thought is that I would see people I know constantly, but perhaps that would be a good past client connection time, but not a wi-fi connection time!

Sep 26, 2011 01:36 AM
Surprise Arizona Realtor Jim Braun Sun City Grand Active Adult Communities
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Jim Braun Sun City Grand Az - Surprise, AZ
Surprise AZ real estate Phoenix West Valley

Mimi: Being a past owner of a business with WiFi hotspot I understand both sides of this. Panera Bread I am sure does not want to run off the people that actually buy lunch and use wifi. The problem becomes the people that come in set up order water and take up paying customers tables. Yes they could be shooting themselves in the foot but they still have wonderful food and I have never had a bad experience in Panera myself. I use a wifi key so I don't have this problem.

Sep 26, 2011 01:45 AM
Evelyn Santiago, Managing Broker Heart Realty Group, Inc.
Heart Realty Group, Inc.. - Oswego, IL
Passionate About Real Estate & Our Clients!
I too have used Panera Bread for meeting clients or for a change of scenery. I believe our local ones have a two hr. limit which is reasonable. Starbucks and Caribou are my favorites. Since i always spend a minimum of 7 to 12 bucks and more for longer stretches I don't feel guilty. I do see many people come in and not buy anything yet take up big tables, and hog the outlets. Since I am a regular at a few locations the staff is aware of those that come in and will ask those that are over staying and not buying to share or change table with the paying customers. The coffee places are more understanding than the full service Panera because they are selling an environment as well as coffee. You just have to be polite and share or leave when its very busy and you have stayed several hours
Sep 26, 2011 01:46 AM
Carolyn Nelson
Realty One Carolina, LLC - Burlington, NC
Your Triangle to Triad Real Estate Expert!

I've only been to Panera Bread once and was not impressed but that was many years ago. I would be very disappointed if I went to any resturant that didn't make free WiFi as a part of the benefits only to find that it is croweded with web surfers taking up space for hours eliminating the use of others from buying and/or being services. However, I also feel that Panera Bread should post the usage limits to the WiFi so a choice can be made.

Sep 26, 2011 02:19 AM
Mark Welsh
Kirkland, WA

You would think that they would want you to have at least an hour then maybe ask if you want to continue, and offer a coupon for a discount if you eat something instead of kicking you out.  makes no sense.

Sep 26, 2011 02:33 AM
Michael Setunsky
Woodbridge, VA
Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA

Mimi, unfortunately these places don't make much money on people who buy one cup of coffee and spend all day taking up a table using their free Wi-Fi. They should probably increase the 30-minute though.

Sep 26, 2011 02:42 AM
Mike Yeo
3:16 team REALTY - Frisco, TX

I don't think I have ever been booted out of a Wifi network before. It's too bad that they do that. Wifi, these day are available almost anywhere. Even McD has it. Wifi will be one of those extra value provided.

Sep 26, 2011 03:14 AM
Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional
Charles Rutenberg Realty - Clearwater, FL
Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor

wow, Panera was always my favorite place to park myself for an afternoon of quiet PC work but it has been a while since I have done that...........a half hour? I am going to have to check our local Panera to see if that is across the board or only out there............I hate Starbucks, so that won't happen!

Sep 26, 2011 03:32 AM
Susan Harding, HomeStar Video Tours
Portland, OR
Showcasing You and Your Listings, 855-579-6284

I can understand putting on some wi-fi limits but 30 minutes is ridiculous!  And they should definitely give you a warning.  I can completely relate about needing to get away to think/write...with two kids, a husband who works from home, and a wonderful but non-stop talking mom in the house, not to mention the demanding yet darling dog.  The local coffee shop is a refuge at times.  A latte and a laptop can be lifesavers!

Sep 26, 2011 06:44 AM
Coleen DeGroff
Coldwell Banker M.M. Parrish Realtors - Gainesville, FL
Haile Plantation Real Estate - Gainesville FL
Oh my goodness! How aggravating, especially considering the fact you were in serious need of some "me" writing time. I do feel for Panera seems they must feel they are losing business if they have institutes this policy. If you are buying food and not hogging table time that hold up other paying customers who are looking for a place to sit that is one thing....but as you said this is a quiet location so it doesn't sound as if they were losing business. Hmmm. I wonder how they can better regulate their wifi access to make it fair. Glad you were able to switch gears and head to Starbucks instead. Happy writing! :)
Sep 26, 2011 07:18 AM
Sandy Acevedo
951-290-8588 - Chino Hills, CA
RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale

I have read both posts and glad to see the friendly give and take. I guess Panera did what it had to do to accommodate more business, but it would seem that when it is not crowded, they can make an adjustment.

Sep 26, 2011 09:37 AM
Lizette Fitzpatrick
Lizette Realty - Richmond KY - Lexington, KY
Lizette Realty, Lexington KY MLS - Kentucky Homes

That's pretty funny! I had no idea that they limit your air time. Get an iPad and forget about that network stufff. I don't connect to them anyway.

Sep 26, 2011 12:08 PM
Erika Madsen
Fathom Realty - Gilbert, AZ
Fathom Realty - Southeast Valley District Director

Thanks for saving me a trip!!

Sep 26, 2011 01:22 PM
Lynn B. Friedman CRS Atlanta, GA 404-939-2727
Atlanta Homes ODAT Realty - Love our Great City - Love our Clients! Buckhead - Midtown - Westside - Atlanta, GA
Concierge Service for Our Atlanta Sellers & Buyers

Dear Mimi -

You and Katerina demonstrate the best of ActiveRain - being able to discuss from different points of view and be respectful of each other at the same time. Great examples!  Thanks to both of you!

Have a happy day -

Sep 26, 2011 04:16 PM
Cheryl Ritchie
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Huntingtown, MD
Southern Maryland 301-980-7566 I had this post in drafts saved up to post later this week. I love my local Panera and Starbucks!
Sep 26, 2011 06:09 PM
Mimi Foster
Falcon Property Company - Colorado Springs, CO
Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor

I have loved these responses.  I completely agree, Lynn (#103) that one of the things I love most about AR is the interaction and the camaraderie, even with opposing views.  I had a bad experience.  Does that make Panera Bread a bad place? Of course not.  It just means I had an awful experience when I was looking for a good one, and even though I understand the reason, it was very poorly implemented.  I love to see the passion and the loyalty that many of you have for 'your places.'  It's what keeps them selling $5 cups of coffee (don't you wish YOU had thought of that?) :)))) 

Sep 27, 2011 03:52 AM
Steven Cook
No Longer Processing Mortgages. - Tacoma, WA

Mimi -- I am sorry that you had such a bad experience.  My mother, wife and I went to Panera on a Sunday recently, and in the time it took to get them seated, and go get the drinks -- our food was already there on the table by the time I got back.

Sep 27, 2011 08:44 AM
Jon Sigler
Coldwell Banker Realty - South Windsor, CT
Sigler Sold Another! 860-306-8029

I share your pain!  There are several Panera Breads in my area.  It is a love hate relationship. The wifi is a serious joke, 30 minutes really, it is so slow you can load maybe 1-2 pages, forget getting any work done.  There is a Kinko's near the Panera I like the most and you can access their unlimited wifi and sometimes get a workable speed as well.  The Panera wifi's are slow enough it drives meetings to other places if there will be a need for reliable wifi access.  Sure at lunch time you are lucky to find a table and they don't want a bunch of road warriors taking all the tables.  

Sep 27, 2011 03:00 PM
Kathy Sheehan
Bay Equity, LLC 770-634-4021 - Atlanta, GA
Senior Loan Officer

I have worked at Panera or met clients there but don't recall having the 30 minute restriction.  But I will be more aware next time I visit.

Sep 28, 2011 01:12 AM