I’m meeting a friend at Panera this morning. Did you know that Panera is St. Louis Bread Co. throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area? Of course, you did, if you are reading this in St. Louis. Panera is based in St. Louis and the residents of the area refer to the bakery-cafe simply as Bread Co.
It took me a year of living in Charlottesville to stop calling it Bread Co. And now, when I’m in St. Louis, I call Bread Co. Panera.
It was quite interesting to see how, as St. Louis Bread Co. spread beyond the confines of the borders of America’s biggest small town, it began rebranding itself as the hoity-toity sounding Panera Bread. The few of us who traveled beyond the ‘Lou and came upon one of these restaurants were at first, confused. “Darn it if that place doesn’t look JUST LIKE a Bread Co. but the sign says Panera! What the heck’s a Panera, anyhow?”
Some of us were insulted. Does the company think the St. Louis-associated branding wouldn’t do as well in say, California or Ohio? No matter. We like our sandwiches on artisan bread, fill our conference rooms with bakers’ dozens of bagels and cream cheese, and pop in for a mocha and extensive use of free wifi no matter which name is on the door.