I got a free $15 gift card to Bountiful Bread, so I figured I’d check it out. It was explained to me as an “independent Panera.” Now Panera is one of my favorite places to eat, so that sounded pretty good to me. I checked it out today.
First of all, let me say that Panera can be a little chaotic when you go in there at lunch time — but it has nothing on Bountiful Bread. There’s a giant wrap-around counter with people standing all around it — apparently each place they stand has a different purpose, but it was just dumb luck that I picked the right one to order at.
They took my name with my order, and a few minutes later, someone yelled “JON!” at the top of their lungs. Of course 3 people plus myself ran up to the counter to find out if it was our food. Then I took my food to another, seemingly random, part of the counter — where it took 3 cashiers over 5 minutes to figure out how to process my gift card.
Then I went to the most haphazard dining area I’ve ever seen. And it was almost completely filled with women. It was like a testosterone-free zone. Women were sitting on stools, on pillows on the ground, on high benches, and on low couches. One woman was openly breast-feeding her spawn, while two children jumped off the couch she was sitting on. I took my glasses off, to cut down on the sensory overload, and went to eat my food.
I paid $7.50 for a Turkey Sandwich that consisted of: two slices of bread, 3 or 4 slices of turkey, some chunky white substance that could have been butter, or tofu, thinly sliced apple, and liberally applied honey-mustard. It was the most bizarre sandwich I’ve ever eaten. Combined with a fountain drink (the cashier got very confused when I asked for my cup) my meal cost just shy of $10, and took about 3 minutes to consume. Which sucks because I’m still hungry, but is OK, because I really wanted to get out of there. I still have $5 left on my gift card, but I’m pretty sure I’m not going back…