Like most restaurant and retail employees, Panera Bread workers have seen their fair share of odd things at work.
Business Insider spoke with a number of current and former Panera Bread employees. They gave us the details on some of the weirder things that have gone down in their restaurants.
Most of the incidents they described had to do with rude behaviour or surprising orders from guests.
Here’s what the employees had to say:
Most of the employees described dealing with unreasonable or irate customers. “One guy kept saying I messed up his sandwich after completely eating it,” an employee said.
One customer got so angry that they began throwing utensils at a manager, according to an ex-Panera employee.
A different employee said that they’d seen customers with $US100 delivery orders fail to tip drivers.
“A grown man yelled and cursed at me through the drive-thru because we didn’t have oatmeal at 8 p.m.,” one employee told Business Insider. “We stop serving breakfast at 11 a.m.”
“A woman did the same thing but screamed at us as she drove past the window,” the same employee added, saying that the experience left employees “terrified.”
But sometimes, chaos at the drive-thru isn’t the result of ticked-off diners.
One employee said they were working at the kitchen’s dish station one day when their manager ran up to ask for help. “The ticket time on the drive-thru was up to 29 minutes,” the employee said.
Other employees described receiving rather strange orders from customers, like one woman who asked for a sandwich with the meat, veggies, and other toppings removed, instead of just ordering one of Panera Bread’s grilled cheese sandwiches.
Another employee said they thought one customer’s request for a barbecue-and-tuna sandwich was “nasty.”
Two different employees added that they didn’t understand the appeal of ordering a cinnamon crunch bagel smeared with tuna salad. “Grossest thing to make and smell ever,” the employee. “Just seems like a strange taste combination, one that I am never going to try.”
That employee added that “lots of people” do order this item.
A different employee said they thought it was strange when a customer ordered “a bagel and a bottle of water for delivery.”
An employee who said that they “could write a book about” their odd experiences at Panera Bread described a “very nice” mother and son who ordered an entire warmed baguette.
“So we stuck a baguette back into the oven for a couple minutes, put it on this tiny plate, and walked it over to their table along with 10 little butter packets,” the employee said. “It looked ridiculous as it was such a giant piece of bread on a tiny plate being served to some little kid.”
“One customer came in asking for a bread bowl of soup, but we didn’t have any bread bowls left,” an employee said. “She then demanded that we give her a bread bowl in an entire loaf of sourdough bread. Our manager took her side.”
And then there are the customers who prove to be fire hazards. One employee described a father of three who “put a chocolate chip cookie in our public microwave for too long and made smoke come out. They just said ‘sorry’ and walked out, leaving their cups on the counter for me to clean up. I had to fan out smoke for 10 minutes.”