Several years ago in December I went to the Panera Bread Company in Orion, Michigan for my favorite morning cinnamon roll and coffee.
While there I had occasion to address several Christmas cards. As I was enjoying my cinnamon roll and inscribing messages in the cards, a fellow at an adjacent table asked me if I was filling out a card for him. A strange question and yet it started a conversation about Christmas cards and the upcoming Holidays. As it turned out he was also a retired banker and we spent the next ten minutes or so discussing our banking careers.
The following Sunday my wife Mary and I returned to Panera as it was our custom to have breakfast there every week. As luck would have it the fellow who inquired about my Christmas cards was there with his wife. We started up a conversation that lasted for about an hour. That was two years ago. Now the four of us have developed a close friendship and we meet every Sunday morning at Panera for breakfast and conversation.
So not only is the food at Panera excellent, the store brings people together for informal gatherings. And just to prove that Panera Bread Company is a magnet for establishing new friendships, when we travel to St. Louis to visit our grandchildren we always go to the St. Louis Bread Company in Chesterfield. (Panera is the corporate name in all states except Missouri where it is headquartered.) Each morning a group of about ten people dine at the Bread Company and they have adopted me as an honorary member of the group each time we come to Missouri. So now I interact with friends at two different Panera Bread Companies – real bagel buddies!
And speaking of the Chesterfield St. Louis Bread Company, there is a gentleman (Dave) who is there every day. In fact he often meets with potential clients for his Internet Advertising Company. Sometimes he leaves for a moment and it is during those times that I happen to be there so I started leaving a note for him that read: “Sorry I missed you. Mona”.
Each time we traveled to Chesterfield and the Bread Company I would
notice that he had left his table and left a note stating he would return
shortly. During those times I left my note with the name Mona which I just made up. I did this at each subsequent visit to our grandchildren (four or five
times a year) and each time I left the same note. This went on for two years.
You can imagine how perplexed Dave was each time he saw a message from someone named Mona. From what I understand he inquired about the note with the Bread Company staff and of course no one knew anything about it. Then last year I went into the Bread Company and Dave was seated at his usual table. I walked up to him and said: “Hi, I’m Mona”. The look on his face was priceless. And of course this developed into another close friendship so much so that he has attended the Bar Mitzvah and the Bat Mitzvah of all our grandchildren in St. Louis.
So in conclusion, the Panera Bread Company has not only become a dining experience for us but it has assisted in our developing new friendships. So the St. Louis Bread Company/Panera motto should be: “Great food and lasting friendships”.
Lake Orion, MI