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 facebook.com/panerabread, and at their website at PaneraBread.com. A virtual third place, their main website offers up a wealth of information:
- paneranutrition.com – A nutritional calculator of all their menu items.
- mypanera.com – Information of their rewards program along with tips and recipes.
- panerabread.com/recipes – A database of recipes using their delicious breads including this one for Bread Pudding with Apples, Pecans and Raisins.
- paneracatering.com – Having a party? Panera can help cater it!
- panerabread.com/paneracard – You can order Panera gift cards online and have them shipped out via FedEx to your home, business or as a gift to a college student away from home or to a friend who just moved to a new city.
- panerabread.com/about/careers/ – Need a job? Panera may be hiring near you!
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.