In search of a third place at Panera Bread

Third Place What’s a “third place”? Well, the first place is home, and the second place is work. And the third place is somewhere your spend time when you’re not at work or at home. It’s familiar and comfortable - a place where you can relax with good food and friends or family. On a Friday afternoon, my family’s third place is Panera Bread.

A weekly routine

Every Friday, the kids and I stop at our local Panera for an early dinner before black belt class. I’m always amazed how many times we run into families from our martial arts studio or kids from our school who are there with their mom or dad. It’s kind of nice to see familiar faces at Panera.

While the kids have their Panera mac & cheese, I look around to see who’s stopped by for a meal, a snack or just to take advantage of the free wifi. There’s usually a few high school or college students studying. Or a solopreneur with his laptop. There are families. Friends meeting to catch up. Business colleagues discussing work. Or just the lone person who’s enjoying a well deserved coffee break after a long day at work.

All the comforts

While every Panera Bread is different, I especially like the layout and the decor of the one that the kids and I visit each week. There are booths for eating with the family. Tables if you’re noshing with a friend. Comfy chairs around a fireplace for relaxing with a book. And high tables with stools for when you need to get some work done on your computer.

My local Panera also has a community room. I’ve attended meetings there and unlike many coffee shops, it’s quiet and you have some privacy since you can close the door. And unlike meeting at the library, you can have a coffee and a snack and no one gives you the evil eye.

Connecting with Panera

You can connect with Panera on Twitter @panerabread, at their Facebook page, and at their website at A virtual third place, their main website offers up a wealth of information:

So how about making Panera Bread your third place?

Disclosure: I received compensation to write this post and a gift card to pay for our meal.

2 thoughts on “In search of a third place at Panera Bread

  1. tamara

    Panera is awesome! My kids love it too. I have 3 boys and trying to spend some individual time with them is difficult. But kids love 1 on 1 time with mom and dad, so I allow my kids one school day to play hooky and go out with mom and dad to anywhere they want to go and out to lunch. They always pick Panera bread. They love their mac and cheese. We have such great quality time there.

    1. Anne-Marie Nichols Post author

      My kids “just” discovered the soup in a bread bowl meals. If they’re big eaters like my son, it’s a better deal than ordering off the kid’s menu. But yes, their mac and cheese rules…even adults say so!


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