Panera Bread delivers healthy, delicious food, high quality customer service to you

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Panera Bread opened a bakery café in El Cajon a little over a year ago. This location is the only one with a drive-thru ordering option among the company’s 21 San Diego County franchises. And now, along with the Panera café in La Mesa, the El Cajon site is offering East County customers the option of having anything on the menu delivered to a nearby home or office.

Panera Bread opened a bakery café in El Cajon a little over a year ago. This location is the only one with a drive-thru ordering option among the company’s 21 San Diego County franchises. And now, along with the Panera café in La Mesa, the El Cajon site is offering East County customers the option of having anything on the menu delivered to a nearby home or office.

The bakery cafes emphasize a menu filled with selections that are freshly prepared, healthy, delicious and nutritious. Baked goods, sandwiches, soups, pastas and salads are choices for Panera diners. The company further focuses on quality, caring customer service, with “good food … served in a warm, welcoming environment, by people who care.”

Graham Saber, delivery operations manager for Panera, and Chris LeonGuerrero, general manager of the El Cajon café, described the early weeks of El Cajon delivery operations since the service began in early August. (The La Mesa café started deliveries later, in mid-August.) 

LeonGuerrero said that deliveries are already a “good percentage” of daily business at the two East County cafes. Saber and LeonGuerrero hope that as East County residents learn about the convenience and quality of the delivery service, that percentage will grow.

Ordering Panera delivery food is simple and easy. A customer either accesses the Panera website to order online or downloads the Panera app and orders through the active app. No phone orders are accepted. “We meant this for easy use, streamlining the process for cafes,” Saber said. “This functions like a machine,” he continued, “and orders go right in the system for preparation and delivery.”

LeonGuerrero picked up the thread from there. “We aim for a 30 minute window for delivery. We have a $5 minimum for a delivery order, and we shoot for getting the food there within the first 10 to 15 minutes.”

Saber explained that deliveries are available within a “polygon-shaped map” of an eight-minute driving range. That translates into roughly 2.4 miles around each café. The distance was chosen to ensure that the quality of the delivery food is maximized. 

Delivery service hours are from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. Busiest times are lunch hours 11 a.m. through 2 p.m. and dinnertimes 5 – 8 p.m. Busiest days are Wednesdays through Fridays. Another online option is “quick pick-up” ordering.

“We wanted more options for guests,” LeonGuerrero said. “We also want to show them what we’re up to. We want to give our guests customer service that goes above and beyond what guests expect. We really want to serve the community too.”

Theresa Ross, a customer from El Cajon, stepped forward unsolicited to attest to that. Ross praised delivery driver Fanar Katto, who was assisting inside the café while awaiting delivery orders. “Fanar has helped me with great customer service right now,” Ross explained. “My day was filled with difficulties and Fanar absolutely made my day start going smoothly.”

And community service? Panera offers employed associates the opportunity to donate $1 to the company’s “Share the Dough” fund. From that money, Panera reaches out to help. Panera recently sent 25 people to Houston to help in the aftermath of hurricane flooding. At Thanksgiving and Christmas, Panera associates assist people and families in need during the holidays.

Panera Bread traces company origins to the St. Louis Bread Company in the 1990’s. Panera is a family-owned, family-friendly enterprise, with 2,024 Panera locations across the nation. 

Graham Saber moved from Chicago in 2002, as Panera opened its first San Diego County franchise in Escondido. Saber took on the position of delivery operations manager at the beginning of 2017. LeonGuerrero has worked for the company since 2004. “I started from the bottom,” LeonGuerrero said. “Then I moved into training, went on to become a shift supervisor, and now I am in management.”

The company has job opportunities available. “We have about seven delivery drivers at each location,” Saber stated. “I have hired 90 drivers since August, and we are accepting applications.”

The La Mesa cafe can be visited at 5500 Grossmont Center Drive. The El Cajon location is at 733 Fletcher Parkway. Information about the company and East County locations can be found at www.panerabread.com.

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