I love good bread. I have made many, many loaves from scratch. Before children, I kept a sourdough starter alive for over a year. Panera makes very good bread.
Not all Panera Bread locations are the same. I especially like the one in La Plata, MD. They serve soup, sandwiches and wicked deserts. My wife and I shared a bread-bowl of French onion soup. The bowl was a scooped out loaf of sourdough bread. Not only was the bread delicious, but the soup was excellent, as well. Their sandwiches are made to order, except for Paninis during the lunch time rush, which are assembled a little ahead of time and grilled after they are ordered.
The dining room is large, but it has a cozy feel to it. The décor is warm but subtle. The space is divided by panels that seem to be placed randomly. The effect is to create smaller areas, but not separate rooms. There is even a space with large upholstered chairs to relax in and use their wi-fi to catch up on your email, or stock portfolio, or whatever.
What really sets this location apart is its friendly staff. They give their customers as much attention as they need. They are happy to answer questions. What's more, they obviously like each other. The manager, Eileen, places a lot of importance on an upbeat and welcoming atmosphere. That makes a big difference.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.