Sometimes I really have a hankering for a good sandwich, a hearty salad, or a comforting bowl of soup. Add a hot cup of well-brewed coffee and you've got the perfect cure for a rainy day or the ideal escape from a noisy workplace.
I've been familiar with Panera Bread for a long time. It will always be a favorite of mine. There is a location that is quite near to where I work, so if for some reason I didn't bring my lunch with me, it has often been my go-to place for a guaranteed good lunch. My lunch of choice? The Turkey Artichoke hot panini sandwich or the Cream of Chicken and Wild Rice soup. And to top it all off, an Iced Green Tea. Mmm....
In recent months, however, I have grown quite fond of Cosi. Like its competitor, they specialize in sandwiches, salads, soups, and coffee. But they do not have the extensive bakery section that Panera has. But it is the unexpected things that make them exceptional. Things like the do-it-yourself s'mores that they offer. They bring you all the ingredients, along with skewers and a little can of Sterno and you can roast your marshmallows right at your table and assemble your s'mores. Good date night activity. It is usually lunchtime when I am there, so I don't often go for the s'mores. My lunch of choice? the Buffalo Bleu Chicken Sandwich, or the Signature Salad (amazing!). Or sometimes when I'm in the mood for the best of both worlds, I can get a half of my favorite sandwich, and a half of my favorite salad!
Now I have a funny story to share about Panera and Cosi. A while back when I had not yet become a regular customer of Cosi, I was visiting Panera on an almost weekly basis to get my soup craving satiated. Usually it was the same gentleman at the register. He was soft-spoken and wore coke bottle thick glasses. We would often chit-chat for a few moments, and I could tell that he appreciated someone looking him in the eye, giving him a smile, and treating him like a person rather than just an order-taker. He would occasionally give me a free cookie.
Well, today I didn't bring my lunch and had to go out. I debated for a moment where I should go, and eventually decided on Cosi. I walked up to the register and guess who was there behind the counter. You guessed it! The dude from Panera! It was a rather awkward moment.
Me: Wait, aren't you the... Who worked at the, um, (looks around to see if his boss is listening), "other" place?
Him: Yeah, I work at, um, "over there", when I'm not working here." Don't you usually eat there?
Me: Yeah, sometimes. Sometimes I come here too.
I think that we both felt like traitors.