Associate Janis Catanzarite

Janis Catanzarite spent more than 20 years working in her family’s former textile business. So when she accepted a job at Panera Bread in Seven Hills, it was a bit of an adjustment.

She was no longer in a corporate setting and, suddenly, she became the “mother” to her co-workers and a friend and confidante and personal shopper for the restaurant’s customers.

“I love the people here and I love the customers. My co-workers work hard and they care and they show up,” Janis said.

Janis started working at the Seven Hills Panera in 2012 because she wanted “a little extra cash” and one of her girlfriends had told her that working at Panera was fun.
She didn’t like her first position at Panera working in the bakery and taking people’s orders and using the cash register.

But she said that her managers suggested that she take over the dining room position and since then, Janis said she’s never had a single day that wasn’t sheer enjoyment for her.
While on the dining room shift, Janis gets to interact with customers.

“I just love our customers and the area,” she said.

She has her regulars.

“We’re like the Panera Cheers. Everyone knows each others’ names.” – Janis Catanzarite

She calls one customer by his nickname, “Trouble.”

“He (Trouble) calls me his Panera wife,” she said. “He is adorable and I love him.”

Janis said Trouble’s wife died three months ago and she and one of her co-workers visited her at a Hospice facility, where she was spending her last days.

Trouble was upset that he and his wife didn’t get to finish their “Bucket List” of things they wanted to do together before she died. They had wanted to visit the Poconos.

So, Janis suggested that they watch a video of the Poconos in her Hospice room.

Janis also helped Trouble with some of his Christmas shopping for his granddaughter.

Trouble isn’t the only customer who has found a special place in Janis’ heart.

“There’s Frank and Paul and they sit here,” she said.

“And then there’s the whole Monday football coaches group. If only they had been coaching, the games might have turned out better.”

In the back of the restaurant is frequently the man Janis calls “the Reader.”

The Reader almost always comes in with a book and rarely looks up from it, except for the times he brings his granddaughter. “She’s a little princess,” Janis said.

Laughing and looking at the tables where her regulars used to sit and then glancing over at her co-workers behind the counter, Janis said, “We’re like the Panera Cheers – Everyone knows each others’ names.”

While she is close to her customers, she said also has great relationships with her co-workers.

“I’m a mom to them,” she said. In fact, there are times when her three children and her husband remind her that they are her first family.

Referring to her co-workers, Janis said,

“They are really good kids and I have a great relationship with them. The attitude is great here.”

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