The observant among us is aware of the new Panera Bread opening in downtown
We are not the same
When Jeff Korbelik reviewed our place after we opened, he pegged us as a sandwich shop and if that’s all you know us as, you’re missing the other facets that make our place distinct. Many who only visit us at lunch assume we are just a deli like Panera that makes its own bread. Panera sells bread, and we sell bread. They sell sandwiches on their bread, and we do with ours also, but our similarities quickly diminish after that. A visit to each of our prospective locations and our distinctions become pretty obvious.
- Are you going to know the owner?
- Do they sell Old Stock?
- Can you get a Sauvignon Blanc with that lunch?
- Will you see their chef at the Farmer’s Market?
- Are they going to stay open later for your group to celebrate a little longer?
- Are their decisions based on charts and graphs or on what’s fresh and in season and raised a few miles outside of town?
- Do they make their gnocchi from scratch with locally raised potatoes?
- How’s their brisket?
- How about a single malt scotch to cap off the meal?
- Did the baker mix & knead their bread or just bake it?
- Did they make the soup from scratch that day?
- Will their chef come to your table and talk food and wine with you?
I will guess that the answer to most of those, if not all, is no. So as I see it, Panera is not my real competition.
We have a free market
But regardless of how similar or different I am from the next food establishment, in a free market, free means free, regardless of size. I like to know that my success in business is based on my idea and product being superior to my competition, regardless of how big or small that competition is. Panera has as much right to do business in my town as I do. Dick Blick Art Materials, a national art supply chain, went out of business because Gomez Art Supply, a locally owned shop, was preferred by the market. If the playing field is fair, and I have a demand for my product, I need not be too concerned with places like Panera.
The more attention downtown
Panera has a pretty sizeable catering arm, and with the amount of business offices downtown, I’m sure they will do well. But eating the same thing at every sales meeting may lead you to ask who else does catering downtown. We may get to introduce you to our options.
I want a growing economy
Success breeds success, and I want a vibrant economy in a community where people are proud to call it home. Let Supply and Demand do its thing. If Panera fails, I’d rather it be due to a lack of demand for its product, not because of an ailing economic condition.