MPM17B – Assignment #4 – Restaurant Experience

Here is a short virtual tour of the restaurant:

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Ryan Chao, Simone Roth, Kelly Truong and I decided to visit the newly opened Panera Bread restaurant located at Yonge and Gould Street. Prior to our visit, I’ve heard a lot about Panera Bread and saw many pictures of their food looking mighty delicious on Facebook. Since it is right next to the Ryerson campus and none of us have ever been to it, we decided to check it out and do our assignment on Panera Bread.

The restaurant’s sign was very big and features their signature font and logo, which is very memorable and consistent with the rest of the franchise. Although we went in the afternoon when it was bright, there noticed there were many spotlights to ensure the sign will be properly lit and clearly visible at night.

As soon as you step into the restaurant, the pleasant smell of freshly baked bread fills your nose leaving an instant great impression. All the food were nicely displayed in baskets and on the counter. All the items and prices were listed on huge signs that suspended up high behind the cashier. The bright ceiling lights shining onto the food made them looked extra delicious.

Upon entering the place, we found it extremely awkward how the line extended to the entrance. As soon as you open the second set of doors, a line is right in front of your face. It was not very busy when we went around 11AM, but I can imagine how crowded the place can possibly get during lunch hours and how the line arrangement can become a huge design flaw. You will stuck at the end of the line right at the door, can’t really see the beautifully displayed food with 100 people in front of you. If you are eating alone, you basically lose your spot in line if you decide to get a closer look at the food. It was even more awkward how they decided to place the computer for customers to register their myPanera card right beside the line. We got our myPanera cards after purchasing our food, so are we suppose to line up again just to register our cards? They should’ve placed the computers upstairs, or somewhere on the main floor where it will not be blocked by a line of people. If their intentions were to have customers register their card while waiting in line, it will be your turn to order by the time you fill in your name and email since the computer is close to the cashier.

There were at least five cashiers working at the time we went, which was weird because it wasn’t very busy. But it did sped up the overall ordering experience which was good.

The staff were very friendly and approachable. They greeted all their customers with a enthusiastic ‘Hello!’ and ‘How are you today?’ before asking for your order. After the usual exchange of $$$, they gave out free myPanera cards which offers many benefits the more you visit Panera Bread. However, not everyone got one (NOT ME!)! I guess it’s because I only ordered an iced coffee and didn’t meet the minimum price requirement.

I was expected something similar to the iced coffee from Tim Hortons or McDonalds, but she gave me an empty cup and pointed at the counter behind me. It was really awkward because I had to serve myself! I was completely clueless because I didn’t know how much cream and sugar I’m suppose to add to emulate the usual taste of a McDonalds / Tim Hortons iced coffee. In the back of my head, I thought “how much of the $2.99 will I get paid back for serving myself?” but also “hey I can make it just the way I like it”. So after spending what seems like 5 minutes figuring out all the ingredients displayed on the counter, I finally made my coffee the way I wanted and sat down with everyone else.

The overall space is very cozy and gave a very ‘home’ feeling. The monochromatic brown interior gave the space a really nice warm hue. There were an adequate amount of seating on the main floor, and a lot more on the second. There were tables from small 2 people booth seats (which I have never seen before) to large 8+ people rectangular tables. The seats were very comfortable and relaxing. One thing we all hated was how excessively bright it was. There were a million (we counted) light bulbs and some dangled so far down it felt like we were eating during an interrogation (not even exaggerating!). It was completely unnecessary with all the natural light coming in from the large windows on both floors. We also hated the weird artworks hung everywhere. They looked very amateurish and cheap. They decided to waste even more electricity by having lights everywhere to ensure the hideous paintings were lit.

Simone and Kelly both got this… thing… which we found very fascinating, futuristic and hi-tech. We aren’t really sure what exactly it does, but we suspect it’s an order organizing tool that helps the waiters know where to bring the food to. I’ve have had a similar experience before eating at a Korean food court where they notify you when your food is ready for pickup by flashing the device to another color. But this was different since the food was served to the customers at their table. We didn’t have to stand in front of the kitchen counter like McDonalds, the waiters magically knew where we were and brought the food to our table. One thing that bothered us was the amount of waiters there were. We understand that they need more waiters so they can efficiently and quickly serve the food to the customers, but many of them just stood next to the kitchen counter chit chatting not doing much of anything. Some walked around, in between tables which was not very comforting having a stranger coming in and out of your conversations.

It is very much like a lounge area for people to work and study at. There was free wi-fi and electrical plugs which is very useful and convenient. However, we think the wi-fi has a 30 minute time limit during rush hours.

During our stay, we also witnessed a staff handing out free samples (or not samples… maybe FULL SIZE FOOD) out on the street. Most likely to further promote the restaurant and their products.

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Panera Bread is definitely a great place to eat with your friends and relax. Although there were flaws and room for improvement, overall we had a pleasant stay. It is near Ryerson so it can be a great close location to lounge or catch up on some studying. It has the basic essentials every student loathes for in a restaurant: wi-fi and electrical outlets. The food and drinks were very good (although on the pricier side). Not sure how jam packed the restaurant will be during lunch hours, but there were many comfortable seats for small and large groups. I am sure I will go to Panera Bread again in the near future, but most likely order something that doesn’t require me to work.

Here is our map for our experience. We decided to create a timeline because it clearly showcases each step of our experience while effectively displaying them within Entice, Entry, Engage, Exit, and Extend. The map really helped us think about all the little details we usually don’t pick up on. You would think, more servers  = faster food for us, but it is actually a negative when there are so many moping around on the main floor. We really got to examine every little part of the restaurant and thought about what could’ve been done differently, and how it could’ve been better.
(click to enlarge!)


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