Watts (chipotle) wrote,

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Aiee! It's here!

There's a few chain restaurants I've missed since I moved out here. A few "little" ones, ones that aren't going to make you go wow but are just good hangout joints -- Steak-n-Shake, Waffle House (God help me). And, Panera Bread Cafe. In the Bay Area, Le Boulanger wants to be a Panera, but they don't quite cut it: their sandwiches and soups are good enough, but their pastries pale in comparison and their atmosphere is more like a fast food restaurant than a cafe. And to add lameness, they all close at 7:00 pm at the latest.

Today, I drove south to Gilroy and found the first Panera Bread in Northern California, which has only been open since Thursday. Those who know Gilroy will probably ask, "Gilroy? Why Gilroy?"; the answer is, apparently, because it's growing real fast, and the Panera is in one of two retail centers that weren't there a year ago, stocked with upscale suburban tenants.

And, like most Panera Bread Cafes now, it has free wi-fi. That's new in the last two years, but they've always been laptop friendly, with plenty of tables that have electrical outlets.

I ended up staying there close to seven hours, having lunch and then later an afternoon pastry with coffee. (Their coffee is, to be truthful, so-so at best, but it's drinkable and there are free refills.)

For better or worse, Gilroy is too far to travel to hang out too often, although it's probably a bit closer--and certainly faster to get to--than Soquel, where my favorite independent coffee shop is.

But, they're opening a Panera in Cupertino soon, I'm told, and there are plans for 15 around the SF Bay Area.
Tags: food
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