Panera’s New Lobster Sandwich

What are you willing to buy from Panera Bread for $16.99? There are three answers: two full entrees, 18 bagels, or nothing. Notice what isn’t on that list? A $16.99 lobster salad sandwich.

I was in Panera a while ago and noticed a poster with a sandwich with the intimidating $17 price tag. Immediately I assumed it was some kind of large family style sandwich or something, but then upon further inspection I realized it wasn’t. I jumped back from the menu so hard I nearly pulled a mussel.

Are they serious? Everything on the menu (outside of 18 bagels) is $8.99. How can a reasonable person be expected to pay $18.45 (tax included) on a single sandwich? Not only would that take an exceptional level of trust on the consumer’s side, but also, a lunch budget more than twice the average ticket price. I am getting salty just thinking about it.

“Why is it so much?!” I asked

The young lady insulted my intelligence by saying, in a passive aggressive tone “Lobster is expensive.” leading me to believe she has been asked this question before, good. I am happy as a clam to hear that others, like me, are also shellshocked by the price. Of course I know lobster is expensive, it’s an “exotic” ingredient you can only get from the east coast. I can understand it costing more. I have watched the Deadliest Catch (and that’s JUST crab.) “Costing more” however, by Panera standards, should mean $10.99, at $17 I expect truffle oil infused mayo and gold flakes as garnish. I dug a little harder, trying to figure out exactly why it is SO MUCH other than just (mis)-targeting rich people. She touted the freshness of the lobster involved.

A Matter of Freshness?

Fresh huh? Just how fresh exactly? Do you have a lobster aquarium installed in the back of this store, and every Panera store, just for this summer special? Are there 30 fresh Maine lobsters chilling in there just waiting for me to order them? Is there a trained chef in the back ready to (humanely) execute, shell, clean and prepare the lobster for me? I highly doubt it. More than likely they just order frozen lobster meat just like the rest of us. You know Red Lobster has an actual lobster aquarium and can legitimately get away with calling it “fresh” and even they charge only $13.99 for a lobster entree.

It’s like going to McDonalds and seeing a new Kobe Beef Burger for $16.99. I don’t know anyone who has those kinds of balls. I can go to a classy sushi place and get an entree for less than 17$ and that has been prepared by a sushi chef who is probably getting paid 80k, and it is made with more exotic ingredients than lobster. I can go to the liquor store and buy a bottle of Grey Goose and drink-to-forget this absurd summer special.

Two Separate Problems

A. To claim that lobster is “expensive,” and that is why they are charging so much, is a total crock of shit. If they aren’t flat out lying about the lobster being fresh, then maybe I can understand, but I highly doubt that claim as well. This is a common marketing gimmick. You charge more for “Gyro Meat” and “Guacamole” even though they hardly cost more than chicken and cheddar cheese. The issue is it’s 100% more expensive, not a little bit more expensive.< B. Totally out of character for the store. Panera deals in pre-made soups and cold cuts. Now I am going to trust them in preparing a lobster? They have never even dealt with seafood before other than clam-chowder (too salty). They expect me to take a total risk on a dish they have no experience preparing and pay them more than double the average ticket price for it? Get out of town!

Update as of 06-05-2011

I interviewed a Panera employee who confirmed many of my suspicions. He confirmed that they do not have real lobster, it comes in frozen just like the rest of the meat. The second confirmation is there is NOT a pound of lobster meat in the sandwich. Rather, 8oz in the full size, and 4oz in the half size (a pound is 16oz). Just as I thought. The “freshness” is a lie, and any argument about a pound of lobster is also untrue. Although Panera never made a claim that there is a pound of meat, people just assumed that for some reason.

20 replies
  1. Crim Rim
    Crim Rim says:

    You gotta be really mentally ill to write a fucking page long article on a Panera Bread sandwhich, and you have to be an even bigger moron to even think they would use fresh lobster.

    Reply
  2. Judith Grodin
    Judith Grodin says:

    I have eaten two in the last two weeks from different locations and found them both really really good. Very juicy and tender yet firm with large chucks Yum. Price is good too. I’ll be back.

    Reply
  3. Kat
    Kat says:

    I had the lobster roll at a Panera in Maryland the other day. I didn’t mind the price since I love lobster. Then I ate it… or tried to. Whatever seasoning they use in the sandwich was so off putting I didn’t even want to eat it. It had a vaguely Indian flavor and I hate Indian food. I picked a few of the bigger chunks (there was a lot of claw meat) of lobster meat out and threw the rest of it away. I felt guilty; my husband probably would have loved it but I wasn’t going straight home and seafood in a car in 90 degree heat didn’t seem like a good idea. I also didn’t like the roll it came on; reminded me of a Wonderbread hot dog roll. One of the reasons I love Panera is their breads; it’s the only kind I will eat. This roll was awful.

    I will never order it again and the price has nothing to do with it.

    Reply
  4. lobsterfan
    lobsterfan says:

    $17 is not actually a bad price for a Lobster roll. I usually love Lobster rolls and have been charged upwards of $30 but the quality was FAR better. It tasted salty and fishy and there was very little flavoring added. The worst part was that when I bit into it I had to remove pieces of shell and bone from my mouth. I won’t buy it again.

    Reply
  5. Cal
    Cal says:

    I feel stupid and bad for continuing to buy it. But where else can I get fresh lobster meat? And it’s SOOOO COLD. Brrrrrrr.
    I hope it isn’t really a rip-off like you claim.

    Reply
  6. scott
    scott says:

    I find it hard to believe that the author of this blog has ever had lobster anywhere. The price at panera is right in line with a lobster sandwich. In fact i know places locally charging upwards of 27 dollars and the one from panera was not only fresh and loaded with meat but very filling and worth every penny. Shaking my head you think this is outragoues……sorry to say but your head is firmly planted in your rear end

    Reply
      • Living in Reality
        Living in Reality says:

        Have to agree with the author (Alex Krasney)….I checked out my neighbor’s lobster roll today, It smelled good, but had to be frozen and definitely was from the claw which is the cheapest part of the lobster. Even the” thumb” part of the claw which has a different texture and is the least savory part and flavor from the larger section of the claw was included in her lobster roll. My favorite parts are the feelers, roe and the liver-like substance. But, the body of the lobster is the expensive and most sought after part and like to see anyone really argue that point. Hence, I do have a lot of experience with a lobster, including cooking cleaning and eating it. However, the body of same is not in this sandwich, so $17 for a lobster roll is extremely overpriced, but then I think 7 or 8 bucks for a cup a soup and small salad and tiny roll @ Panara’s is a bit high, but not extreme.

        Reply
  7. Steve Smith
    Steve Smith says:

    Are u kidding me! The going rate for lobster roles is in the $15 range. If u love lobster buy it enjoy it. If ur to cheap buy the turkey. Get over it !

    Reply
  8. Paul
    Paul says:

    What are you whining about. The price is reasonable for a lobster roll. Try going out to dinner sometimes in a shutdown restaurant other than chills. Get a life, there is a lot of lobster on this sandwhich. I have ordered them from several nice restaurants and paid a lot more. I am very satisfied with my sandwhich. Enjoy your starkest tuna in wheat.

    Reply
  9. KevKev
    KevKev says:

    Had the “roll” today because someone was treating, although didn’t realize the price was that much. Also, ordered Pick Two and my sandwich was the full size??? Of course the meat was previously frozen but nonetheless I thought it was very good and worth it maybe once in a while…

    Reply
  10. Darlene
    Darlene says:

    I know I am so late for this conversation but I had the lobster roll twice and didn’t love it. I don’t eat meat so I was willing to pay the money for a treat but the pieces were so large you couldn’t possibly eat it like a sandwich and the flavor wasn’t bad but nothing special and because the pieces are so large, there isn’t much of it (turns out to be just big chunks of defrosted lobster). I live on long Island so maybe I’m biased because Lobster Rolls are everywhere here but even the lobster shacks know you have t chop up the lobster meat on a lobster roll.

    Reply
  11. Mare
    Mare says:

    I had this tonight and I must say it was delicious. It was stuffed with tons of claw meat. It was so full, I had to eat a good portion with a fork. Totally worth the $16.99 and the roll was fresh, soft and yummy. Mine looked way better than the one in your picture, too. I wish I could post a picture of it here.

    Reply
  12. districtchick
    districtchick says:

    I was totally wondering about this myself! I went past Panera yesterday and was like “ooh Lobster Roll”, saw the price, and frowned heavily. Has anyone said that it tastes good? For that price, I can go right downtown in DC and purchase an actual fresh lobster roll that is worth $15 at Luke’s Lobster. That place actually serves fresh lobster on a roll. This is ridiculous!

    Reply
    • AlexKrasny
      AlexKrasny says:

      Yes thank you for understating. It doesn’t make any sense, and I feel sorry for the people they are fooling saying it’s “fresh” lobster.

      Reply
      • Thenutsyouareblowing
        Thenutsyouareblowing says:

        Shut up bitch, you don’t even eat this shit anyways – just whine like a little nut sniffin bitch momma, lickin your own cornhole and stuffing lobster rolls up your azzhole nigga

        Reply

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