MY EARLIER COMMENTS on the free wi-fi at Panera Bread bring this testimonial from reader Mark Rushton:
Thanks for the tip on Panera. I found one on the Plaza in Kansas City while my wife and I are on vacation. Sure beats the $12.95 a day net access offered by the hotel, or Starbucks' weird situation ("if you're a T-mobile user you can get blah blah blah...") - and the cheese croissant was excellent.
I was there again yesterday. If the competition in this heats up (and Atlanta Bread is now also offering free wi-fi) I wonder how long those T-Mobile deals will last.
UPDATE: Reader Todd Lemmon emails:
While driving back from a business trip in Indianapolis, I needed to check email and decided to give my friend Matt in Santa Monica a call. Why? Because I was on the road on I-65 and I wanted him to do a wifinder.com search for West Lafayette for me. I was hoping a Panera would pop up since I use the Panera in Evanston (forget the Starbucks 3 doors down; they CHARGE for wi-fi!).
Sure enough, there was a Panera in town so I drive in, had a great snack and got my emails and checked out my blog line-up. There's even a Panera in Merrillville just up the road and I stopped there, too, for 90 minutes while waiting for Chicago area traffic to subside.
Panera has the model: Wi-Fi should be no different than air conditioning or Muzak, free. Why can't other places realize that they can monetize the tiny investment by offering tasty treats, coffee and other beverages?