Customer has a theory for why he claims Panera Bread went down in quality

@matt_epstein/TikTok Ken Wolter/ShutterStock (Licensed)

‘Here’s what happened to the old Panera’: Customer has a theory for why he claims Panera Bread went down in quality

'I stopped going. $8.00 for a grilled cheese. Cheese and bread'


Braden Bjella


Posted on Dec 25, 2023   Updated on Dec 25, 2023, 8:34 am CST

Internet users have long complained that the Panera Bread of today is not the same restaurant as the one they remember from a few years ago.

Users have complained about the restaurant’s perceived smaller portions, high prices, and other cost-cutting measures that have been taken by the company. 

One such user was TikTok creator Matt (@matt_epstein). Last month, Matt ordered a chicken bowl from the popular chain, only to receive an item with barely any food. For this meal, he paid around $15. 

Frustrated, he took to TikTok to voice his concerns. The video proved popular, quickly accumulating over 246,000 views. Seeing this, Matt decided to investigate how Panera came to deliver such an item and “what happened to the old panera bread.”

He recently posted the results of this investigation to TikTok, where it garnered over 892,000 views.

“Five years ago, you couldn’t enter a Panera Bread without seeing abnormally long lines with tons of people waiting to get their baked goods, soups, and bread bowls,” he details. “But now we see crazy high prices, shiny portion sizes, and people claiming to have died from their lemonade.”

From here, Matt lays out a bit of the history behind Panera, ranging from their humble beginnings to being bought out by Au Bon Pain for $23 million.

“2000-2008 was the golden era for Panera Bread,” he explains. “They kept opening more and more locations, and this is when I remember going there and having a great experience every single time.”

However, in 2017, the company was bought by J.A.B. holdings, which Matt notes is “the same owner as Krispy Kreme and Keurig.” This is around the time that Matt says the quality and quantity began to decrease.

“In order to take the company public, J.A.B. Holdings tried to make Panera Bread a lot more profitable,” he says. “So there were a lot of changes that J.A.B. Holdings made, like cutting 17% of the corporate staff at Panera Bread.”

Matt goes on to note the aforementioned internet frustration surrounding Panera. This has left some people feeling “scammed” by the company, he says.

While not mentioned in Matt’s video, there were also reports from earlier this year that Panera was testing substantial menu reductions at some of its locations, which in turn led to much consternation from internet users.

In the comments section, users shared their complaints about Panera Bread.


Heres what happened to the old panera bread

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“I worked at Panera during the golden era because I LOVED it… Ive stopped eating there entirely because of high price and low quality,” claimed a commenter. “It was so sad.”

“I stopped going. $8.00 for a grilled cheese. Cheese and bread,” added another. “Thats crazy. Id rather get a pizza for that price.”

“I used to go in 2011-2013. It was amazing,” recalled a third. “I don’t recognize the food or the prices anymore. Can’t be bothered.”

We’ve reached out to Panera and Matt via email. 

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*First Published: Dec 25, 2023, 10:00 am CST