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14 Freshly Baked Facts About Panera Bread

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From small-time Missouri chain to almost 2000 bakery-cafes in 46 states, Panera bakes more loaves of fresh bread every day than any other fast casual restaurant in the country. Curl up with your soup in a bread bowl (we assume it’s broccoli cheddar) and enjoy the following facts about the not half-baked company.

1. IT WASN'T ALWAYS PANERA BREAD.

The founders of the company first started Au Bon Pain. Au Bon Pain then bought Saint Louis Bread Company (which was only about 20 stores at the time) with the intention of growing the concept outside the St. Louis area under the name Panera. Eventually, it grew too much and the owners sold their Au Bon Pain franchise to focus exclusively on growing Panera.

2. AND SOME LOCATIONS STILL AREN’T CALLED PANERA BREAD.

In the St. Louis area, where the company is headquartered, Panera retains its original name of Saint Louis Bread Company.

3. YOU MIGHT BE EATING AT A PANERA AND NOT REALIZE IT.

The company owns a chain of bakery-cafes in Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Texas, and Illinois called Paradise Bakery. The menu of Paradise is almost the same as the standard Panera menu, but this “Giant Cookie” is definitely something we would like to have as an option when choosing from the Panera You Pick Two menu.

4. THE FOOD DEVELOPMENT STAFF TAKES A TWICE-YEARLY RETREAT TO THE ADIRONDACKS TO TRY OUT NEW DISHES.

Most of the items on the menu came from the company’s chefs and bakers trying to win their own Panera version of Top Chef. Staff meetings also start with the team members literally breaking bread together.

5. DURING THE COMPANY’S PERIOD OF RAPID EXPANSION, A NEW PANERA OPENED EVERY FIVE DAYS.

In the early 2000s, the company was on a roll. The combination of fresh food and an atmosphere that encouraged customers to linger after they were finished eating was a hit with consumers. In 2009, the company was expanding at a rate of 31.5 percent each year.

6. THE COMPANY REALLY LOVES BREAD.

With a company mission of “A loaf of bread in every arm,” it makes sense that the company trains all its bakers to make the best loaf of bread they can. Fresh dough is delivered daily to every franchise from 23 facilities across the country via 212 delivery trucks.

7. THE CUSTOMERS LOVE THE BREAD TOO.

Each year, Panera sells approximately 150 million loaves of bread and 240 million bagels. It takes 140 million pounds of flour to make all that dough each year.

8. BUT PANERA REALLY HATES ANTIBIOTICS.

According to John Taylor, a member of Panera’s food team, the company tasted 30 varieties of chicken before selecting an antibiotic-free variety to serve in its stores. This year, the company (along with Chipotle) was given an A ranking with regards to their policies of sourcing antibiotic-free ingredients.

9. IT WAS THE FIRST NATIONAL CHAIN TO POST CALORIE INFORMATION IN ITS STORES.

Health magazine named Panera the healthiest fast-food restaurant in the country in 2009. Proving it deserved such recognition, the company announced it would start including the calorie information of all menu items in its stores in 2010.

10. THE COMPANY WAS ONCE THE LARGEST PROVIDER OF FREE WI-FI IN THE COUNTRY.

Panera took a gamble that ended up paying off when it decided to not charge its customers for use of the Internet. Sales increased by 15 percent after the introduction, and in 2012, 2.7 million users connected to Panera Wi-Fi each month.

11. ALL OF THOSE LEFTOVER BAGELS AND BREAD LOAVES ARE GIVEN AWAY.

Panera franchises donate the baked goods that remain on their shelves at the end of day through a program they call Day-End Dough-Nation. The company estimated that the retail value of the amount of bread they gave away in 2013 was approximately $100 million.

12. SOME OF ITS CAFES DO NOT HAVE PRICES.

In 2010, Panera opened the first of its Panera Cares Community Cafes in Clayton, Mo. Unlike the other franchises, the cafe operates on a pay-what-you-can system. The menu items are listed with suggested donations, which the company estimates 60 percent of the customers pay. With some leaving more and some leaving less, the locations (there are now four) typical bring in 70-75 percent of what a cafe with strict prices would make.

13. AND SOME WILL ACCEPT PAYMENT THAT ISN'T MONEY.

As part of the Panera Cares guidelines, if a customer is able to pay the suggestion donation (retail price) for his or her meal, the customer is asked to do so. But if someone is unable to pay for a meal at the time, he or she can volunteer for an hour a week at the cafe to earn a voucher for a free meal.

14. PANERA WASN’T SCARED BY THE ATKINS DIET.

While Panera eventually added a semi-secret low carb menu, the company’s annual letter to stockholders from 2004, during the height of the Atkins craze, only exudes confidence. “Throughout the quick rise and ultimate decline in popularity that characterized the low-carb trend in 2004, Panera Bread remained true to our roots and our artisan bread foundation,” it stated. “A company with 'bread' in its name could have expected far worse from the Atkins effect.”

Images courtesy of Panera.

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Live Smarter
The Only Way to Answer ‘What Is Your Greatest Weakness?’ In a Job Interview
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Thanks in part to the influence of Silicon Valley and its focus on the psychological probing of job applicants, interview questions have been steadily getting more and more abstract. As part of the interview process, today's job seekers might be asked to describe a vending machine to someone who’s never seen one before, or plan a fantasy date with a famous historical figure.

Even if the company you’re approaching isn’t fully on board with prodding your brain, at some point you may still come up against one of the most common queries applicants face: "What is your greatest weakness?"

"Some 'experts' will tell you to try and turn a strength into a 'weakness,' to make yourself look good," writes Inc. contributor Justin Bariso. "That advice is garbage."

"Think about it," Bariso continues. "Interviewers are asking the same question to countless candidates. Just try and guess how many times they hear the answers 'being a perfectionist' or 'working too much.' (Hint: way too often.)"

While responding that you work too hard might seem like a reliable method of moving the conversation along, there’s a better way. And it involves being sincere.

"The fact is, it's not easy to identify one's own weaknesses," Bariso writes. "Doing so takes intense self-reflection, critical thinking, and the ability to accept negative feedback—qualities that have gone severely missing in a world that promotes instant gratification and demands quick (often thoughtless) replies to serious issues."

Bariso believes the question is an effective way to reveal an applicant’s self-awareness, which is why companies often use it in their vetting process. By being self-aware, people (and employees) can correct behavior that might be affecting job performance. So the key is to give this question some actual thought before it’s ever posed to you.

What is your actual greatest weakness? It could be that, in a desire to please everyone, you wind up making decisions based on the urge to avoid disappointing others. That’s a weakness that sounds authentic.

Pondering the question also has another benefit: It prompts you to think of areas in your life that could use some course-correcting. Even if you don’t land that job—or even if the question is never posed to you—you’ve still made time for self-reflection. The result could mean a more confident and capable presence for that next interview.

[h/t Inc.]

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Words
This Is the Most Commonly Misspelled Word on Job Resumes
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by Reader's Digest Editors

Your resume is your first chance to make a good impression with hiring managers. One misspelled word might not seem like a huge deal, but it can mean the difference between looking competent and appearing lazy. A 2014 Accountemps survey of 300 senior managers found that 63 percent of employers would reject a job candidate who had just one or two typos on their resume.

Most misspellings on resumes slip through the cracks because spellcheck doesn’t catch them. The most common misspelling on resumes is a shockingly simple word—or so you’d think.

Career coach and resume writer Jared Redick of Resume Studio in San Francisco tells Business Insider that the most common misspelling he sees by far is confusing “lead” with “led.” If you’re talking about how you run meetings at your current job, the correct spelling is “lead,” which is in the present tense. If the bullet point is from a former position, use lead’s past tense: led. Yes, “lead” as in the metal can also be pronounced “led,” but most people have no need to discuss chemical elements on their job resumes.

 
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Other spelling mistakes Redick has seen pop up over and over again on resumes is spelling “definitely” as “definately” (which spellcheck thankfully should catch) and adding an e in “judgment” (“judgement” is the British spelling, but “judgment” is preferred in American English).

To avoid the cringe factor of noticing little typos after sending out your application—especially if your misspelling actually is a real word that spellcheck recognizes—always proofread your resume before submitting. Slowly reading it out loud will take just a few minutes, but it could mean the difference between an interview and a rejection.

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