Panera Bread has become an amazingly successful bakery-café chain over the last few years. In doing so, it has become one of the top choices for people looking for a career in the restaurant industry.
Sometimes, when you dig a little further, you find out some surprising things about companies who seem like they have it together. This one is no exception and I believe you’ll be at least a little surprised as you continue reading this article.
Working at Panera Bread
Surprisingly, for such a successful organization, this company gets just average reviews from its past and present employees. Taking a closer look at why this is so, it’s easy to see that most people complain about the low pay and lack of benefits.
Here are the pros and cons of working at Panera Bread:
- Friendly work environment
- There are advancement opportunities for people who want to work hard
- 60% discount off food purchases during your shift and sometimes it’s free
- Customer tips can increase your pay by a few cents to over one or two dollars an hour
- It’s a good first job for young workers who are energetic
- Work hours are flexible
- The job is very easy to learn
- Many complaints about lack of good management
- Stores are sometimes understaffed
- Work hours are inconsistent
- Pay is insufficient for the amount of work you perform
- Lack of pay raises
- Very high employee turnover rate
- Breaks are too short
- It’s a very stressful job due to the morning and afternoon rush
- Training needs to be improved for entry-level team members
Panera Bread Hiring Full-Time and Part-Time Team Members
Panera Bread is constantly hiring full and part-time personnel due to their constant expansion and high employee turnover rate. There is always a high probability that this bakery café chain is hiring many workers in your area or somewhere nearby.
Before you start making plans on applying, take a look at the jobs listed below and their job descriptions.
Panera Bread Starting Pay
The starting pay for entry-level workers is usually about $.50-$.75 above the state minimum wage. So, for a cashier who wants to get a job in Florida at this company, you can expect to make somewhere around $9.06 to $9.56 an hour.
Please remember you can add to this a small percentage of the daily tips which is shared among the hourly team members. This could add anywhere between $.50 to $1 and even $2 during certain shifts on a daily basis, depending on how busy your store is.
Panera Bread Positions
The most common job at Panera is that of an associate, also known as a team member. Associate positions include the positions of cashier, salad and sandwich maker, catering lead, and overnight baker. Delivery driver jobs are also available.
Aside from these entry-level associate jobs, each location has team leaders, team managers, an assistant manager, and a general manager.
Here are the entry-level positions:
Panera Bread Associate/Team Member
In this team member position, you will learn all aspects of how this store operates. You’ll be expected to learn the menu inside and out, how to operate the cashier register, prepare salads and sandwiches, and continually maintain the cleanliness of the store.
Additional responsibilities include making drinks for customers, serving bakery products, and bussing tables.
Panera prefers people who have experience in some sort of retail setting, but it is not a requirement. Also, this company prefers people who have a friendly demeanor and can interact well with others.
Panera Bread Cashier
Some stores like hiring team members specifically for the cashier position. This is a job where you’re going to have to memorize the menu and stay on top of any changes to the menu on a constant basis.
This company will train personnel on how to perform this job but it prefers people who have experience. More important than anything is the ability to interact with other people and show friendliness with plenty of enthusiasm and energy. At times, you will e expected to maintain the cleanliness of your store.
Panera Bread Catering Lead
In this position, you guide your team members to fulfill all the catering orders for the day. Your job is to make recommendations for customers looking to cater for their events and to complete the orders by offering upsells.
In short, the catering coordinator is going to expect you to take the lead in making your department as successful as possible. This means you will also have to assist your team members in maximizing profitability for the catering department.
For this job, you will also need your own vehicle and a good driving record to be able to attend catering events. Even though some type of food service experience is preferable, Panera will be willing to train the right entry-level employee for this position.
Panera Bread Delivery Driver
All you need for this job is to be at least 18 and have a valid driver’s license as well as an insured vehicle with proper registration.
This job offers very flexible schedules and it will involve you delivering meals in the surrounding communities. Deliveries made while performing this job are contactless and do not involve any monetary transactions.
In return, you earn an hourly wage and your tips and mileage are paid daily.
Other hourly positions that require some experience are:
Panera Bread Overnight Baker
Every night, this Panera bread baker is the one who receives all the prepared baked goods and simply coordinates popping them in the ovens and decorating the products as necessary. Panera bread has certain standards and this worker will quickly learn the system and make sure that every morning, the baked goods are ready to be sold.
This job requires 1 to 2 years of baker experience or at the very least, some type of bakery experience. You’re also going to have to work the midnight shift which is usually from 10 PM to 8 AM.
Panera Bread Catering Coordinator
This position requires you to be extremely knowledgeable of the entire Panera menu. You have the ultimate responsibility when it comes to your catering department and you must supervise your workers as well as your catering leader in order to ensure maximum profit.
This is also a position where if you are good at coaching and training your personnel, your job will become very easy and manageable.
You must have your own car with a decent driving record to be able to get this position. Experience in retail or foodservice sales is preferred but it’s not an absolute requirement.
Team Lead Position
This is the Panera bread shift leader/supervisor position and usually, an experienced team member gets promoted to this job. Team leaders guide their employees to success on a daily basis and your job is probably busier than any other job in the store.
You will be constantly going back-and-forth between stations to ensure your store is running smoothly and efficiently. One minute you may have to work the cashier, and the next you may find yourself serving drinks as a barista.
This is like an entry-level management job at Panera Bread. You will be expected to conduct yourself professionally and to be a role model for other team members.
The job also requires being able to pass a thorough background check and you must have some reliable transportation. Additionally, for external applicants, this job requires at least one year of experience as a supervisor in some capacity.
Panera bread team managers are responsible for the store’s operation during their shifts. They report directly to the assistant general manager.
This is a position where you can easily find yourself training to become an assistant store manager within a short amount of time. To do this, you need to prove yourself on a daily basis by motivating and coaching your team members to provide the absolute best customer service possible in order to meet and exceed your store’s goals.
For this job, a person who has over a year of experience in restaurant management is preferred. However, it is not required and if you have the ability to motivate and help other employees be successful, this may be the job for you.
Panera Bread Assistant Manager
In this salaried position, you’re in charge of overseeing all the dining room activities to make sure everything is functioning perfectly. You will ensure the restaurant is clean and that the lighting and background music is how it is supposed to be.
Additionally, you are responsible for the interior and exterior appearance of your store. You’ll also be in charge of all the financials having to do with your store and you’ll ensure that the entire café is safe and secure according to safety standards and procedures.
Team managers will report to you and you will be entrusted by your manager to provide guidance for them whenever the need arises. You have to possess 1 to 2 years of retail restaurant supervisor experience for this position. You can expect to be working holidays and weekends and you have to have some type of reliable transportation.
Panera Bread Manager
In this general manager position, you’ll have to be a very talented and high-performing individual who sets forth high-quality standards for himself and others.
It’s up to you as an individual to create an atmosphere for your team members that’s conducive to high performance and creating high employee morale. It is also your responsibility to make sure your restaurant is running like a perfectly oiled machine so that it can create the most memorable dining experience possible for your customers.
The requirements are at least 2 years of management and even though it’s preferable to have a college degree, it is not required.
This company boasts about the fact that most of their managers begin their careers as hourly associates.
Panera Bread Distribution Center Positions
There are many distribution center positions available throughout the United States. You’ll find Jobs such as production operator, sanitation operator, drivers, distribution managers, and operations manager.
You can visit the official careers website navigate your way to the distribution center jobs to read the descriptions before making a decision.
How to Apply at Panera Bread
As with most companies these days, Panera Bread accepts applications online. You can download this PDF application to give you an idea of what to expect on the online application.
Here are the steps to take:
- Visit the official Panera Bread careers website.
- Navigate through the website for a little while to get yourself acquainted with the company.
- Once you are ready to begin searching for careers, click on the “Search Careers” navigation link at the top of the website.
- On the following page, place a checkmark in the category of job you want to look for and enter your state and your city.
- Look at the listings, read the job descriptions, and when you are ready, click the “Apply Now” button.
- On the next page, you can upload your resume if you’d like to (not required for hourly jobs), and begin the application process.
Panera Bread Hiring Process
This company sometimes holds open house hiring events in order to recruit team members. During these events, interviews are very casual and fairly brief after you complete your application. You may even get hired on the spot during these events.
If you submit your application online the regular way, you can expect to get a callback within the first two weeks in order to schedule an interview. You will then interview in person and you will possibly have to go through a background check.
Even though some applicants applying for entry-level positions do not get a background check, if you do, it will take approximately 1 week to get the results back.
On average, the timetable to be after submitting your Panera Bread application online is from 1 to 4 weeks.
What Age Does Panera Bread Hire?
You have to be at least 16 years of age in order to get hired at this company but you will only qualify for some entry-level jobs. For example, you can be a cashier or a sandwich and salad maker if you are 16 years old.
However, you would not qualify to be an overnight baker or a catering lead employee.
Does Panera Bread Drug Test?
Panera Bread usually does not perform a drug test for each applicant. However, if you arouse their suspicion for any reason, they reserve the right to have you submit to a drug test.
Additionally, while you are employed at this company, you can get sent to have a random drug test whenever a liability situation arises. There are reports of some salaried workers having to pass a drug test before being offered employment.
History of This Company
Au Bon Pain Co. became Panera in 1997 and began its vast growth as a company. It began to greatly expand in 2007 by opening 70 more locations across 10 states in the western regions of the United States.
Today it is home to over 53,000 employees at over 2,000 locations in the US as well as Canada.
Some of the benefits offered at Panera Bread are the regular health benefits which include medical, dental, and vision. However, as a general guide, these benefits are offered to full-time employees after working a full year.
Part-time workers reported that they have a chance to qualify for medical benefits after working approximately 1,500 hours during a years’ time. This usually occurs after 1 to 2 years working in part-time status.
Other benefits include 65% off meals during your shift but not totaling over $10, paid time off, and a 401(k) with a company match.
When employees rate a successful company like this one as just average mainly because of the low pay, it throws up red flags.
To me, a company like this that expects so much of its workers would benefit from revamping its pay scale. This would cut down on the high employee turnover and boost employee morale.
If you add to that the amount of complaints about the lack of pay raises from workers who don’t have any aspirations of becoming managers, you have the perfect recipe for employee dissatisfaction. What companies like this sometimes fail to realize is that these workers on the front lines are what drives their success!
If you are someone who doesn’t mind working in a high-stress environment for very little pay and oftentimes inconsistent or inadequately scheduled hours, then, by all means, go for it. Heck, you might get lucky and work for a store that actually appreciates you and offers you a chance to advance either in pay or in job status.
This company is very appealing for certain types of workers.
A Panera Bread application is best for younger employees looking to gain fast food or restaurant service experience. Additionally, for people who want to eventually become managers, this company offers great opportunities.
If you want to play it safer, I would suggest trying to find a job in retail stores such as Target, Costco, or even Hobby Lobby. These are the types of companies that are in the business of constantly improving employee morale by offering good salaries and benefits.