It’s Yankee for “Bread”

arch-sunset.jpgThere were many bitterly cold days in St. Louis when hot soup in a sourdough bowl was more than a filling meal; it was a survival stop on the stroll to Vintage Vinyl, a cure for my hard-earned Cicero’s hangover, and occasionally fuel for studying. Even when the temperature wasn’t buried below freezing, St. Louis Bread Co. was a dining fixture for my time in The ‘Lou, nearly as omnipresent as Budweiser and classic rock.

It’s been a lotta years, but it looks like I’ll soon get to enjoy Bread Co. without having to encounter a single mullet or hoosier. The chain’s franken-franchise spawn, Panera, today announced their intention to open 15 shops in the Austin-San Antonio area. A quick spin through the menu reveals that “Panera” has evolved to ride the panini wave, but my stand-by asiago roast beef is still there, along with the soup and sourdough. How embarrassing … I just drooled on my keyboard.

Panera may have a tough time cracking the Austin market; Schlotzsky’s has a tight grip on the gourmet sandwich angle, the 80-degree winters don’t inspire much need for hot soup, and Austin isn’t the most chain-friendly place around. But even those who don’t order a side of nostalgia should find the breads appealing. At least, I think so. Back in the day fresh sourdough was a rarity outside of bakeries, so for all I know it tastes like week-old Sunbeam from the Dripping Springs Super S compared to what you get at Central Market.

But if Panera does take off, I’ll be tempted to bring Imo’s pizza and toasted ravioli to town as well. Then we’ll see on which side of the Men’s Fitness ranking Austin falls.

photo of St. Louis skyline from

3 Comments so far

  1. F.E.F. (unregistered) on February 7th, 2006 @ 1:47 am

    Panera sure does produce a weak excuse of a “panini” — it’s more like a warm sandwich with grilled bread. Lame. Einstein’s Bagels tries to deliver a panini and fails as well. A real panini is a pressed sandwhich where the grilled bread forms a nice crisy crunch to the warm, melty filling. This sandwich’s demise is the 5-7 minute cook time — just too long by consumer stnadards for fast, or even fast-casual dining (if only people had a little bit more patience — they are SO worth it).

  2. Sinn (unregistered) on February 7th, 2006 @ 3:12 am

    We have Panera here in Redmond Wa. I wasn’t impressed. I can make better sandwiches at home for alot less $$.

  3. jinx (unregistered) on February 9th, 2006 @ 3:51 pm

    Personally, I like Panera Bread. Everytime I went I liked whatever it was that I ordered and the staff is friendly. Sure, I could make better food at home, but since I was at a restaurant paying for it, I obviously didn’t want to make my own. I think their price point is fair and the quality on par for the price. Also, I definitely prefer Panera to Schlotsky’s. I think the food as well as the atmosphere is better. I haven’t lived in Austin very long, but I think the people will receive Panera well. At least, that is my hope. I encourage everyone to try them out once they’re here.

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.