Hot take Hotter take is a weekly column where opinion editor Vincent Rendon delivers takes hotter than the microwaved food at Panera Bread.
Like any good nation, a university is only as strong as the food choices it offers. Be it through small businesses or large chains, the various places to eat help define campus life for the students. The snacks and meals consumed between classes are as much a part of the school’s identity as the classes themselves. With this in mind, it is vital to have good food options capable of establishing the campus as a welcoming environment where no one will need to struggle to find somewhere they enjoy eating. Each and every dining option plays a part in developing the campus’s food-ethos and new additions shake up the vibe. Sometimes this is for the better, but sometimes this means getting a Panera Bread.
Hot Take- Panera Bread is bad food
I understand, in many cultures who welcome concepts such as “flavor” and “seasoning,” the assertion Panera Bread is not good food is not radical. Still, a legionnaire of Hydroflask-sticker loyalists and board-shorts wearers will certainly “sksksksk” me to death for this slander— I have made my peace with this. I can not in good conscience endorse Panera Bread’s artisanal cafeteria food. It’s all the flavorfulness of a military GRE with none of the valor. Even the occasional tasty food Panera does offer runs afoul of a poor flavor-to-taste ratio. Getting $6 worth of flavor in a $11 sandwich is the definition of getting fleeced, and then Panera has the audacity to offer a whole apple as a side like I’m back getting elementary school free lunch. It’s picnic food with none of the fun or cost savings.
HOTTER Take- Panera Bread is bad for the culture
It hurts me to know the cool waffle place is being replaced by the fast-food equivalent of a Pier-1 Imports. It’s gentrification-lite, as one of the few unique places to eat on campus is forced out in favor of something bland and inoffensive. Sure, Forklift will live on in the Overlook, but then you’d have to go to the Overlook, so it might as well be dead. We’re trading cool gears on the wall for boiled macaroni and cheese and it just doesn’t feel right. With every Panera that opens and Bibos that closes, the campus area increasingly becomes a Glendale strip-mall and less of a cultural beacon with unique character and aesthetics, and I think it’s tragic.
Vincent Rendon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @VinceSagebrush.