Panera Bread, a.k.a. St. Louis Bread Co., doesn't run very high-profile ad campaigns. Come to think of it, Gut Check can't recall ever seeing a television ad for Panera, or if we did, it made exactly zero impression.
That could -- and should -- change, thanks to an unlikely event: the recent testimony of a former mafia capo in a a Brooklyn, New York, courtroom.
The New York Daily News (via Grub Street) has the remarkable story of a mafia dispute over a pizza recipe. Seems Francis Guerra, an associate of the Colombo family, learned that Eugene Lombardo, an associate of the rival Bonanno family, had stolen his family's pizza-sauce recipe.
Russo [the former Colombo capo who was testifying] recalled how he, Guerra and Colombo goon Frank (Frankie Notch) Iannaci took a ride to Staten Island, where they confronted the rival pizza maker.
Iannaci started banging on the window where a sign brazenly advertised "L&B-style" pizza.
"Gene came out and (Guerra) started yelling at him. He told him he's a 'piece of s---, a s---bag, robbed my family, I'll break your head!' " Russo said.
Did the confrontation erupt in gunfire? Did Lombardo end up wearing cement shoes?
Later, Russo was summoned to a sitdown by Bonanno soldier Anthony Calabrese, meeting him at a Panera Bread in Staten Island. The Colombos demanded a slice of Lombardo's pizza parlor or a onetime payment of $75,000.
The emphasis is emphatically our own. Representatives from two of the five families choosing your establishment to settle a dispute peacefully? (And they did settle, for far less than the $75,000 demanded.) You can't buy that kind of street cred. Hire Tony "Paulie Walnuts" Sirico to be the ubiquitous Jared-at-Subway-esque face of the campaign, and let the ad copy write itself.
"Panera Bread: Have a sit down."
Gut Check reached out to Panera Bread with our idea. We'll let you know what they say.