I feel awful saying this, because I'm the first one to advocate and patronize local restaurants and merchants - I think it's incredibly important and just plain more fun to support local economy! However, my experience with Cafe Carolina was completely average.
It doesn't help that I love Panera Bread. I love basically their entire menu, all their baked goods are delicious and the atmosphere is casual and relaxing. I feel that Cafe Carolina is just trying to be Panera, and sadly fails. They have a similar menu, but not as extensive. The food and baked items just don't taste as good. The service is not as prompt (although very friendly). And the seating area looks like it's supposed to be quirky and cute, with grandma-looking pillows for back cushions in the booths, etc - but it just looks a little tired instead.
They do offer $1 off a pastry/baked item with a certain purchase, which I liked, and I've gotten one coupon via email when I signed up to be on their list before visiting.
Overall, I'm sad to say that if I want fast, delicious bakery items, salads or sandwiches, I will continue to choose Panera. I may pop back in to Cafe Carolina occasionally to see if anything's changed, because I would love to support them if I felt like I was getting a great product in a fun environment for a good price.
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