Panera Bread, Otto's Cafe

Panera Bread replaced Au Bon Pain at Otto’s Cafe in the Kern Graduate Building on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019.

Au Bon Pain is no longer a dining option for students on campus — and many have mixed feelings about it.

Instead, four newly renovated Panera Bread cafes have replaced the previous Au Bon Pain locations.

After a few months of construction, the lit-up Panera sign now takes the place where the old yellow Au Bon Pain cafe signs once stood on campus.

Most students have known about the swap for some time. In November 2017, Panera bought Au Bon Pain’s 304 locations, according to Forbes. Penn State announced Panera would replace Au Bon Pain on campus in May.

While some students don’t like the change, others said they are excited about the newly opened Panera cafes.

Jaspreet Ghuman didn’t feel a change was necessary, and had mixed emotions when the replacement was announced.

“I feel Penn State is always changing things and sometimes it makes me kind of upset because I’m so used to certain things,” Ghuman (senior-health policy and administration) said.

However, Cheyenne Johnson had a different viewpoint.

Panera Bread, Westgate Building

Panera Bread replaced Au Bon Pain at Reese’s Cafe in the Westgate Building on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019.

“I love the change,” Johnson (senior-psychology) said. “I think Panera is a step above.”

On Sep. 4 — the Kern Building Panera’s opening day — students crowded the seating area and lines, creating a scene Johnson described as “chaotic.”

Johnson and Brenna Fennessey needed instructions upon entering to understand how to order properly. As of right now, Panera is ironing out any kinks with the system and set-up.

The new Panera locations differ from Au Bon Pain in that students usually have to pay for their food when they order at Panera. Previously, at Au Bon Pain, students received their food and then paid a cashier.

Additionally, students can self-order at Panera if they wish.

A few students voiced excitement about the change from traditional cashier ordering to kiosks and reward membership cards.

Fennessey (sophomore-anthropological science) said she really likes the idea of the kiosks, but was upset students can’t use LionCash or meal points yet if they want to self-order.

Additionally, Fennessey said she prefers Au Bon Pain due to its larger selection of grab-and-go items. She is concerned about Panera’s primarily made-to-order system.

“ABP was more of a grab-and-go,” Fennessey said.

However, for students in a hurry, Panera is also offering Rapid Pick-Up — an online or mobile order style.

Au Bon Pain had an online ordering option as well, but many students are excited about Panera’s online ordering.

Students also reminisced about their Au Bon Pain favorites such as the fruit cups, yogurts and hummus veggie wraps.

Panera Bread, Otto's Cafe

Panera Bread replaced Au Bon Pain at Otto’s Cafe in the Kern Graduate Building on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019.

As a vegetarian, Fennessey feels Au Bon Pain had more vegetarian-friendly options. For example, Au Bon Pain’s hummus veggie wrap seemed to hit home for her vegetarian lifestyle.

Ryan Huff (freshman-communications) has never eaten at an Au Bon Pain café, but confidently said he’s a big Panera fan.

Freshmen may not know about Au Bon Pain’s reign at Penn State, but it will not be forgotten by many students who used up all their meal points on Au Bon Pain dining.

Johnson threw a curve ball at Penn State’s dining options and said Starbucks should be the next chain on the swap list.

“I think if they put a Dunkin in [the HUB], it would run Starbucks out of business,” Johnson said.

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