Everything Panera Bread employees want to tell you but can't

Jeffrey Greenberg/UIG via Getty ImagesEmployees recommend that you skip the drive-thru.

Business Insider spoke with a number of current and former Panera Bread employees about what it’s like to work at the restaurant chain.

Read more: Panera is rolling out the two-bowl version of its famous bread bowl across America

They shared several insights that may not be immediately apparent to casual diners, including information on how different menu items are prepared.

Here’s what the employees had to say:

Employees said that much of the food at Panera Bread “is shipped to the store in a bag.” That includes the mac and cheese …

… the Alfredo dish, which employees said they “throw in the microwave” …

… and the chicken used in the salads.

And while the restaurant’s signature bread is indeed baked in the store every day, it arrives in the kitchen premixed. A representative for Panera did not return Business Insider’s request for comment.

Charles Krupa / AP Images

Most pastry options arrive at the restaurant frozen. “All the baker usually has to do is pop them in the oven,” an employee told Business Insider.

Sandwiches get heated up on a panini press, a process which typically takes two minutes, one employee said.

Employees also said that the soups come prepackaged.

Hollis Johnson

The employees Business Insider spoke with also complained about the drive-thru. One employee said that their restaurant demanded that drive-thru customers be served within three minutes, “which completely disregards the time and care that customers and management of Panera expect workers to put into making items.”

The employee added that the problems at the drive-thru were “no fault of the customer” but recommended that guests looking for a speedy purchase instead use the store’s “Rapid Pick-Up” option.

And two Panera Bread employees told Business Insider that, by and large, the diners they meet are quite pleasant. “While there are some exceptions, Panera Bread customers are some of the nicest I’ve seen anywhere,” one employee told Business Insider.

John Gress / Reuters

Are you a Panera Bread employee with a story to share? Email [email protected]

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