After decades of building restaurants and growing a company, Sam Covelli is now sharing his thoughts about work, life and other issues.

image1 (1)

Bake the Baguettes for Lily

I have a new reason for going to work every day. She’s not very big and she doesn’t eat a lot. But as long as our Panera baguettes are her favorite food, I’m going to make sure that Lily Von Glahn has as many baguettes as she can handle.

For nearly a whole year, Lily, now 9 years old, had no appetite and the only food that her mother, Heather, could get her to eat were our Panera baguettes. Lilly, who was diagnosed with high risk Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in August of 2014, went through an entire year of chemotherapy and had to miss the third grade because she could not risk being near others.

She will have another year of therapy but Heather says her daughter is doing well. “She has proven to be incredibly strong and fierce and very much a fighter,” Heather wrote to us about her daughter.

We got to know Lily and Heather because Lily, who is battling cancer, is interested in what it takes to be a professional baker.

We found out about this interest and she and another child, Izzy Caminero, worked alongside Panera’s Baking Director Dallas Cox to win the titles of Panera Bread’s Junior “Ultimate Bakers” at an event we held in early February with A Special Wish Cleveland Chapter.

It’s always gratifying and humbling to be able to do things that help others. But this event was extremely important for me because of the special role that Panera has played for Lily, who had to live with a feeding tube during part of her chemotherapy treatments.


Team Panera members, who were coached by Panera Baking Director for the Cleveland Region Dallas Cox, strategized as the Junior Ultimate Baker event began. The team members are: Lily Von Glahn and Izzy Caminero.

Here’s what Heather wrote to us when we asked her to tell us a little more about Lily. Please keep in mind that we didn’t even ask her to tell us anything about our products.

“In that first year, Lily didn’t have an appetite (hence the feeding tube) but one food that I could usually get her to eat at least a few bites is a Panera baguette. I’m sure it sounds like I’m making that up for this story, but I promise you I’m not,” Heather wrote.

As a prize for her fine work as the Junior Ultimate Baker, Lily received numerous prizes, including a certificate for Panera bread for a year and that’s the one that Heather says she’ll value the most. “You have no idea how big of a deal that is in our house. I’m trying to convince her to try another type of bread, but so far it’s just the baguette that makes her smile,” she said.

She said the competition made her feel as though she really was a professional baker.

Lily, I guess I’ve written enough. I better make sure our bakers get those baguettes going.

Lessons from MLK inspire and educate young and not-so-young

People learn in all ways.

People learn in many different ways.  I believe that I learn best by studying others. I was fortunate to have learned from my parents and countless role models throughout my life.

And I am still learning – every day. I learned a lot and gained amazing inspiration from dozens of Pittsburgh youth who entered Covelli Enterprises’ Fourth Annual Martin Luther King Writing Contest and Leadership Award.

These young people, who will be presented with awards on Saturday, Jan. 16, showed great sensitivity, passion and energy for the ideals for which Dr. King worked.


Daviona Clemons,  author of the first place essay, titled “An Open Letter,” described how sad Dr. King would be if he could see the lack of progress in society. She wrote, “Dear Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., If you could only see what I am seeing now, there would be no way to keep your tears from streaming down. The hurt that our people are going through today. It’s like your speeches didn’t amount to anything anyway.”

Daviona’s words are beautiful and she is an accomplished writer, but more importantly, her ideas convey the kind of unwavering hope that Dr. King had in humanity. “I believe in what you said that day. ‘The time is always right to do what is right.’”

I was honored to read her essay and am grateful for Daviona and the others who possess such wisdom at such an early age.

Thank you Daviona and thank you to all who entered.



The full list of winners is here:


1st Place: Daviona Clemons – An Open Letter

10th Grade – University Preparatory Academy

2nd Place: Johnte’ Jackson-Thomas – The time is always right to do what is right.

8th Grade – Falk Laboratory 

3rd Place: Frank Smart – Where Has the Time Gone?

10th Grade – University Preparatory Academy



Amir Hutchins – 11th Grade – University Prep

Rashawn Edmundson – 12th Grade – Barack Obama Academy

Damon Peters – University Prep

Terrell Coleman – 6th Grade -University Prep

Denay Clemons – 9th Grade – University Prep