This COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on nearly everyone, and nearly every business. Now that restrictions are easing, I came across the greatest thing.

I am a big fan of coffee and coffee shops. I like sitting and reading while having coffee, I like stopping in for coffee somewhere on my way into work. Panera at Marketplace at Centerra is on my way to work from Downtown Loveland to Downtown Windsor, so I began stopping in there right after they opened.

I really enjoyed how I could pop in and hit one of the ordering kiosks to order my coffee; It made it so quick and easy. Then, I would just pour the coffee, add my cream and sugar to taste and bounce out.

Then the pandemic struck.

At the Loveland Panera, they quickly moved to 'non dine-in' operations; everything was to-go, which didn't affect me too much, as I wasn't really sticking around on my way to work anyway.

But, among the precautions they needed to take was that you couldn't get your own coffee cup, sugars, nor a stir stick. The staff had to get those things for you.  It wasn't so much of a change that I didn't go in, because I have their subscription coffee deal, but I really liked 'going under the radar:' Kiosk, coffee, gone.

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When the pandemic restrictions started lifting enough for them to have dine-in customers, they still had the coffee restrictions in place. That was in place for months on end. I had said to myself, 'I'll know when things are really getting back to normal when I can get my own cup and sugars.'

Then, it happened.

Within the last couple of weeks, I had gone in and headed, as usual, to the counter to order my coffee, when a staff member who recognized me pointed over to the kiosk area and said, 'the cups are back!'

I teared up a little. There they were: Those stacked green cups, the different offerings of sugars and sweeteners, and those paper-wrapped stir sticks.

'It's really happening!' I exclaimed.

TSM/Dave Jensen
TSM/Dave Jensen

It's really a little thing, I know, but it's great to have them all back.

So, if I may:

Dear Panera:  Thanks for that.

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