Customer claims he knows why Panera's quality has declined – The Daily Dot

Internet users have long complained that today’s Panera Bread is no longer the same restaurant as the one they remember from a few years ago.

Users have complained about the restaurant’s perceived smaller portions, high prices, and other cost-cutting measures taken by the company.

One of those users was TikTok creator Matt (@matt_epstein). Last month, Matt ordered a chicken bowl from the popular chain, only to receive an item that barely contained any food. He paid around $15 for this meal.

Frustrated, he took to TikTok to express his concerns. The video proved popular and quickly reached over 246,000 views. When Matt saw this, he decided to investigate how Panera came to supply such an item and “what happened to the old Panera bread.”

He recently posted the results of this research on TikTok, where it received over 892,000 views.

“Five years ago, you couldn’t walk into a Panera Bread without seeing unusually long lines with tons of people waiting for their baked goods, soups and bread bowls,” he says. “But now we see crazy high prices, sparkling portion sizes and people claiming they died from their soda.”

From here, Matt tells part of Panera’s story, from its humble beginnings to its acquisition by Au Bon Pain for $23 million.

“2000-2008 was the golden era for Panera Bread,” he explains. “They kept opening more locations, and I remember going there every time and having a great experience.”

However, in 2017, the company was purchased by JAB Holdings, which Matt says is “the same owner as Krispy Kreme and Keurig.” This is around the time Matt says the quality and quantity began to decline.

“In order to take the company public, JAB Holdings tried to make Panera Bread significantly more profitable,” he says. “So JAB Holdings has made a lot of changes, such as cutting staff at Panera Bread by 17%.”

Matt goes on to point out the internet frustration surrounding Panera mentioned above. This has left some people feeling “betrayed” by the company, he says.

Although not mentioned in Matt’s video, there were also reports earlier this year that Panera was testing significant menu cuts at some of its locations, which in turn caused much consternation among internet users.

In the comments section, users shared their complaints about Panera Bread.


Here’s what happened to the old Panera bread

♬ Epic Music (863502) – Draganov89

“I worked at Panera during the golden age because I LOVED it…I stopped eating there altogether because of the high price and poor quality,” one commenter claimed. “It was so sad.”

“I stopped walking. $8.00 for a grilled cheese. Cheese and bread,” another added. “That’s crazy. I’d rather buy a pizza for that price.”

“I was there from 2011 to 2013. It was incredible,” recalled a third. “I no longer recognize the food or the prices. I don’t mind.”

We contacted Panera and Matt via email.

*First published: December 25, 2023, 10:00 a.m. CST

Braden Bjella

Braden Bjella is a culture writer. His work can be found in Mixmag, Electronic Beats, Schon! magazine and more.

Braden Bjella