Tuesday, October 12, 2010

tuesday's true confession: do olives have legs, antenna and yellow stripes?

**Here's a disclaimer . . .
if you are easily grossed out or eating, you might want to move on to another blog.**

Yesterday was supposed to be my very own mini-utopia day . . . filled with a drive to the nearest city (45 minutes away) by myself (I love going away by myself even if it's just a 45 minute drive), a few errands for work and personal stuff, and a delightful solo lunch at my favorite me-restaurant . . . Panera.  I love(d) Panera . . . soup, salad, warm bread.  What could be better on a beautiful fall day? 

After I ran my errands, I sat down at a little booth in a secluded corner of Panera, turned on my computer in order to do a little work, and waited for my Classic Greek salad and whole grain baguette to arrive.  The first bite was delicious . . . the next bite was delicious.  I was expecting the entire salad to be just as delicious . . . that is until I looked down at the bite of lettuce on my fork and saw what I thought was a black olive.  

Do black olives have legs and antenna and yellow stripes? 

Uhm . . . the answer to that is a big resounding "NO!". 

What does have legs, antenna and yellow stripes? 

A giant, olive-sized beetle does!
*source - This isn't the actual beetle in question, but I can only scan through images of beetles for so long.


I tried to remain calm, but truth be told, the couple of bites that I had already swallowed were tough to keep down.  I politely got the attention of the assistant manager who was walking by at the moment.  I showed him the beetle on my fork. 

He said, "Gross!  Can I make you another Greek salad?"
I said, "No, I'm pretty sure I don't want this salad anymore."
He said, "Can I make you a different salad?"
I said, "No, I'm pretty sure I don't want any salad anymore."
He said, "Okay."

Then he grabbed my bowl, fork and beetle and walked away.

That's it!  No, "Hey can I get you your money back?" or "Wow!  I'm so sorry!  Let me get my manager."  Nothing!  Just, "Okay."

This isn't the first time I've encounter a bug in my food.  Five years ago as I dug into a cup of frozen yogurt sprinkled with chocolate chips at TCBY, I was surprised to find a fly among the chocolate chips.  When I was eight, I found a fly on top my piece of French Silk pie in a cafe.  Both of these times the staff were apologetic and did their level best to make the situation right. 

But this assistant manager at Panera only gave me a "gross" and an "okay".  Does that seem a bit odd to anyone else? 

So my true confession is that I don't like beetles or bugs or insects of any kind in my food.  I know . . . shocking, right?!  But my other true confession is that as much as I'm still totally grossed out and also a little miffed, I'm frustrated because Panera has been one of my favorite places to grab a quick bite for years and years.  And now because of one assistant manager, my opinion of Panera is tainted.  I know I shouldn't let one bad experience reflect poorly on an entire company.  I know that . . . really I do.  But as I ate dinner last night, I was flicking through my food expecting to find a bug.  As I ate breakfast this morning, I examined every bite to make sure a gnat or fly or . . . beetle wasn't in it.  Really . . . I'm not an overly dramatic person. 

Is that weird?  Should I just be able to let it go?  Have you ever found a bug/insect in your food at a restaurant?  What did you do?  How did you get over it?

Confess on!    


Annette W. said...

Seriously, you are not out of line. A different person could have made a scene.

You might consider calling to speak to the manager and ask if in a situation such as yours if the assistant manager acted appropriately...and if not what could be done to restore your hope in Panera...and if so...skip it next time!

Liz @ LivingMySweetLife said...

I once found a human hair in my salad at applebees, They were SO apologetic, My meal was free and the gave everyone at my table a free desert!

Recently I walked into an ice-cream shop with my boys (a verryyyy popular one) I saw a roach. After I ordered 20 bucks worth of ice-cream.
The manager was like "oh well, it happens" yuck. we don't go there anymore!

Tara @ Tara Being Tara said...

"Gross! Can I make you another salad?"

Yes, please, and this time, can you include more than one nasty bug??

~linds said...

Geesh! He should have at the very least offered you your money back. I don't think you are out of line at all. In fact, I think I would call and talk to the manager--especially b/c it's ruining your opinion of your favorite restaurant.

Sarah@sweetpeaandjojo.blogspot.com said...

No bugs for me, but I had a huge black hair in my salad at Panera about a year ago. I was so darn hungry though that I agreed to a freshly made salad.

Dianne said...

We had the same thing happen in a restaurant in our area. We found a bug in our daughter's baked apples. They handled it the same way - pretty much just said "sorry", but that's it. I was furious! We've never been back since.

Lyndee said...

Call them and speak to the manager. Just let them know you were too traumatized yesterday to say anything. I'm pretty sure that's a health care violation. You can remind them of that.

Practically Spent said...

It's time to call them & request your money back, along with a call to the health dept.
Time to switch to Cosi (hope you have one). It's SOOOO much better, and cheaper too.

valentinegirl said...

I would do as others above have said. Call the Panera and ask to speak to the General manager. Explain that their location was your one favorite pleasure and you are very disappointed. If you still get no where, I would ask for the contact information of the franchise owner. The bottom line is that you will never want to go back unless they treat you like they care.

Unfortunatley, bugs are pretty common in lettuce. That is the one food item most likely to have something creepy lurking in it. I don't want to freak you out about it, but just know that the rest of the stuff you like is probably fine. The beetle that was in your salad probably hitch-hiked all the way from the growers in California (it's not bc Panera is dirty!)

Suzy said...

You know I just blogged last week about a unexpected guest in my sandwich...http://suzysartsycraftsysitcom.blogspot.com/2010/10/why-i-dont-like-food-that-is-looking-at.html

I recommend calling the manager and letting them know. Frankly, I can't find a way to make myself go back to my offending restaurant. But maybe they can do something for you to get you to return.


Rescued Goods said...

Totally agree-you gotta call or write a letter-even though it is a pain for you. Seriously bad customer service-wow! Hope your other meals this week are not as yucky!

Modern Country Style said...

That's SO awfulyou poor thing. I know just how you feel, inspecting every subsequent mouthful. Yuck.

Lu said...

I can't even believe the bad customer service... Blows my mind!

Beth @ Sand To Pearl said...

You definitely need to contact someone at Panera! I had a mix up with our food once, and they gave me a new sandwich and even coupons for next time. If their corporate offices found out about this they would flip out.

Melissa @ Domestic Goddess In Training said...

If you don't feel comfortable calling the store, send an e-mail through their website. That usually works really well. that is nasty.
But on a positive note, I think Panera bread is to DIE for =) I admit to sometimes getting the loaf of bread and eating it for dinner...not the whole loaf, but not just a little bit either =)

Kenzie said...

I can't believe you didn't say something else! That is so grossssss! I would have marched myself up to the counter and demanded my money back and if that didn't work I would have made sure everyone heard that I almost ate a bug!

Debby said...

Since you didn't ask to see the manager then I think you need to contact corporate. Seriously, they will do something. My
Aunt complained to corporate about the music being too loud at
Applebees and they sent her flowers and 4 full meals. Call them, they would want to know. I think I would have rather had the beetle than a fly. Gross.

jennoreilly said...

So NOT an over-reaction! I would totally write an email to their head office and let them know how disappointed you were with how the situation was handled.

We don't have Panera in Canada, but I go shopping in Watertown, ny twice a year and ALWAYS go there and your story is making me second guess my choice!

Sheila said...

ohhhh noooooo I so would have freaked out! seriously, and I would also never ever go back and all future food would be inspected!! seriously I think I'll inspecting my food from now on....ackkkk that is so gross! I would email them on their website, they should have returned your money that is the appropriate course of action especially when you held it together and didn't make a scene- I'm pretty sure there would have been some screaming and jumping if it had been me :-)

Hands Sew Full said...

EEEWWWW! That is gross! You are by far NOT out of line! I have had this sort of thing happen to me in the past too and it is gross every time! But by no means do I EVER pay for food that has bugs in it!!! I agree that you must speak to the manager or the head office...this kind of poor quality is not acceptable. I mean BUGS!! Really!!!!They couldn't see that before it hit the table!

Beverly @ FlamingoToes.com said...

Ok - you have a million comments here I haven't read through but AAAAARrrgh! I'm so sorry that happened. Yuck.
I don't think it's weird at all that you're still grossed out.
In fact, I'd contact Panera corporate with a little note saying, "hey. you and your manager screwed up." ugh.

michelle said...

It would have been ruined for me too. My mom would have asked for the manager and made them make it right. I am non-confrontational so I probably wouldn't but I would want to!

Mindy said...

Oh that's horrible! I would have insisted on my money back. I have found the service at Panera to be poor in general, and for the amount they charge for their food, they're pretty proud of it. Too bad they aren't proud enough to back it up with good service.

I've had a similar experience, both times with salad. Once I grabbed a salad to go from a Pizza Hut salad bar on my lunch break. I lived in a small town and the restaurant choices weren't the best. I got back to work and opened my salad, really looking forward to it and after several bites found not one, not two, but THREE dead ladybugs in it. Can you believe that? I took it back and got my money back and I have not had a Pizza Hut salad bar since. (That was 15 years ago). The most recent experience was last summer at a Noodles and Company and there was a dead black beetle in my Mediterranean salad. Again, got my money back and I haven't been back there.

janimal said...

Oh my! Our local Panera used to have a lovely manager. He greeted everyone, the staff was motivated and friendly, he recognized his regulars. It was fun going there. He moved on and the place is completely different. I haven't had a bug (YIKES! I would have screamed!) but I don't go anymore.
I seriously am sick at the thought of that beetle.
Email Panera! Let them know that level of customer service SUCKS!

Theresa said...

Honestly, If it is still upsetting you, go onto Paneras website and leave them a message telling them what happened. I am SURE the PR person who sorts through the comments will make it right.

Thats unacceptable and horrible customer service. I work at a hotel and bend over backwards for people all day long to be sure our guests are happy. It really upsets me when someone in the service industry is so dismissive and rude in a situation like that!

Sorry about your food. I would be freaked out too!

Nicole said...

OMG they didn't even offer to give you your money back??? That is awful! I love Panera. I understand that things happen but they should've at least tried to make it right. I would definitely call them today and explain what happened. You may want to kindly remind them that you have over 800 followers on your blog who are anxiously awaiting your next blog about what happened when you called them to complain!!!

Kaylie said...

Yuck! That's horrible and I know how much you enjoy(ed) Panera. I agree with everybody else that they at the very least should've refunded your money. I think if it were me I'd contact the general manager and if nothing happens on that level then move to the next level up.

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