Sunday, June 12, 2011

Daniel's Favorite Restaurant: PANERA

In 2005,when our family sold the first farm we built, and then were building another, we had to set up small barns for animals on the new farm,while the builder worked on building our new home. So that we had water, some access to comforts, a place to nap, shower, and eat while we were there caring for animals and waiting for various contractors, we placed a recreational vehicle there. Daniel very much enjoyed watching DVDs, and sitting in the RV. Most kids really do like RVs and some form of camping. Often, when we were finished the days chores, we would travel to where we were staying temporarily, and we would eat at Panera, which is clearly Daniel's favorite restaurant. For those of you who have never been, it's a cafe with exceptional sandwiches, salads, and soups, which bakes a variety of breads daily. There is also an attached bakery where varietal crusty breads, bagels, rolls, muffins, and desserts can be purchased to go. They also sell some of their fantastic salad dressings, and they cater your occasion if you wish. The entire place is a cafe which makes its own breads and whose menu is at least partially inspired by simple Italian sandwiches and soups, with an innovative American flair. They are committed to a creative and ever changing seasonal healthy menu, and their treatments of old favorites are tweaked by their own chefs. Add to this a broad menu of drinks, free wifi for your internet needs, and you're all set. There are multiple Panera locations, all over the US and they are all decorated a bit differently. The one nearest us, donates their leftover bread to the local foodbank. Ours plays classical music in the morning, and jazz in the afternoon and evening.
Of course, anywhere which had free and fast wifi caught Daniel's attention. He also loved the food there. His favorite menu item there was "You Pick Two" which allows the customer to pick two of any menu items, soups, salads or sandwiches and receive half of each.. His preferences were a half a bowl of broccoli cheddar soup, with a half a sandwich called Bacon Turkey Bravo, with a piece of baguette, and a Dr. Pepper. He would find a quiet corner with a comfortable chair there, and a table, and plug in his computer. Then someone would watch the computer while he ordered. Then he would work online while eating his soup and baguette. Eventually, he would part from the computer long enough to eat his half Bacon Turkey Bravo sandwich and sip his drink. We used to come in once a week, often with all the kids, during the construction of the new farm. A lot of the staff there became fond of Daniel, who would do both schoolwork and creative endeavors on his computer while he was there. After the house on the farm was complete, Panera became a birthday and celebration location for us. It also helped that Panera branches exist in both of the cities we occasionally visit.
When Daniel passed, I remember going there the week after in an insensible attempt to live normally and to see if he were sitting there, with a computer, intensely working while casually eating soup. The first thing the staff asked us was, "Where is Daniel ?" I was not up to comforting the people who cried when they heard what had happened.
We still go to Panera when we eat out. When they take the order and ask for the name for the order, we always say "Daniel" and we sense that somehow, he enjoys the meal with us. I hope that somewhere in Heaven, there is a Panera where Daniel takes a break, watches us and does his work there on whatever computer God issues.We really miss you Daniel, but we will never stop remembering and doing the things we did together that we so enjoyed.

Song performed by Jim Brickman and Roch Voisine

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