Op-Ed: Science Building’s Au Bon Pain Offers Delicious Bites and Hospitality

6 mins read

EDITOR’S NOTE: Op-Eds detail the views of their writers and are not representative of the stance of the paper. Publication of Op-Eds is not tantamount to an endorsement of their content.

There’s one thing you should know about me: I am a breakfast person. I am not me on Monday morning without food in my system. The 35-minute bus ride to campus leaves me feeling drained and hangry (hungry and angry), unlike my usual self. 

Maybe it’s because the Science Building is closest to me or I want to chat it up with the kindly cashiers in the Au Bon Pain café in the Science Building before I go to the Model UN club meeting at free hour — at any rate — I find myself skirting around the parking lot near the Gate 6 entrance and marching up the wide concrete steps to my favorite food spot on campus.

There’s a second thing you should know about me: I can never resist a grilled chicken and avocado sandwich and a tall strawberry açaí, making the Au Bon Pain café a treasure trove of delicacies.

As you wait in line you are immediately enticed by an ice cream vending machine, potted soup, mac and cheese varieties, freezers stocked with bottled drinks, containers of low-fat yogurt, salads, and sandwiches. Did you know you can buy pancakes and oatmeal throughout the day, an exclusive luxury of Au Bon Pain? That only recently became a thing!

Au Bon Pain’s menu has something on it for everyone, including vegetarian, vegan, and kosher options. It also takes on the task of reproducing a laundry list of classic Starbucks drinks with ingredients directly from Starbucks itself. While the made-to-order sandwiches and wraps are pricey, I think we’re definitely getting the bang for our buck. 

It is usually packed with customers, mostly students who are enjoying their food, chatting with their friends, and trying to get work done. Therefore, the line can get very long and it is rare to find an empty table. The café is usually bustling and buzzing from loud chit-chatter, so some students may find it difficult to stay focused on their work in this type of environment.

“Just eating lunch with friends there is always really nice!” Emily Ursa said. “My favorite thing in general is the workers. The lady at the register is always really nice.”

Here is my own mini-dilemma: between the tall metal racks stacked with packaged pastries; the chocolate, candy, and gum packets at the ordering station; and the cashier lady who habitually calls me “long hair girl,” I really don’t know what gives my sweet tooth a bigger toothache — but I know it all keeps me coming back to the science café.

There’s no other food spot on campus that replicates the warm and friendly atmosphere cultivated by the cashiers and cooks at Au Bon Pain. The usual two female cashiers always ask me how my classes are going and try to cheer me up whenever I’m feeling stressed about my workload. One time this semester I was short a couple of dollars, and the cashier lady graciously accepted my cash and let me complete my payment the next day. 

The cooks like to horse around with each other, the cashiers, and the customers. One of them, a tall lady who usually makes my drinks, gently chastises me when I space out and fail to hear her call out my order a third time (which is a regular occurrence) and when I have to ask where the straws are located because I keep forgetting they are directly to my right (also a regular occurrence). I have yet to encounter this level of hospitality and comradery elsewhere on campus.

Most significantly to me, Au Bon Pain provides a sense of comfort away from the academic scene, from escaping in the middle of my borderline failed environmental science lab last semester to stress eating a bowl of chicken noodle soup in under five minutes to receiving free large cups to make English breakfast tea with my partner in between a nighttime study session during the first week of school. 

Au Bon Pain has fulfilled me when I was at my highest and lowest points this past year and one quarter. No matter what my college journey entails, I know that getting my food here will continue to be a homecoming at any time of day.

Au Bon Pain is open Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm located on the second floor of the Science Building.


  1. I thought Au Bon Pain was alright until I learned the company has been misleading consumers about its responsible sourcing standards for years. Like most leading restaurants, Au Bon Pain pledged to improve conditions for animals in its supply chain. This included promising to go cage-free. But unlike most other restaurants, Au Bon Pain refuses to disclose whether it’s actually following through on those promises. I don’t support animal cruelty and I don’t like being misled while companies continue to profit off unethical practices. Au Bon Pain needs to do better, and that starts with being transparent about its own promises.

  2. Hello!

    Your article is lovely and as a hospitality professional, I love that Au Bon Pain is so welcoming to guests. However, did you know that this company is not complying with its commitment to go cage free? This means their egg products are cruel and unhygienic. Please join us to demand that they follow through with their promise.

  3. While it’s great to hear a student has found a space that feels comfortable, I’d also want customers to know the company is embroiled in a corporate greed scandal around its animal welfare policies. You can learn more about it at AuBonPainBetrayal.com—I’d love to see the paper report on this too.

  4. I think it should be noted that Au Bon Pain is lacking in hospitality in other ways. So many people have asked the company to be transparent about its animal welfare commitments and the company just ignores them. They’re being really sketchy about the cage-free policy they made…won’t tell anyone if they’ve done anything about it. I’m disappointed.

  5. Au Bon Pain made a promise to leave eggs from suffering hens out of their company. If this is true, I hope they start reporting about what theyre doing soon! It is not fair if they are lying to their customers and it is not fair on their commitment to the hens!

  6. I agree that Au Bon Pain is comforting and I would like to enjoy it, but I have been disappointed to learn of its involvement in an animal cruelty scandal at a global level (from this website: AuBonPainBetrayal.com). I will not be eating here until they are more transparent about where their ingredients come from, as I do not support outdated and cruel animal cruelty.

  7. Thank you for reviewing this Au Bon Pain location. While you might have found them hospitable, the same can’t be said for what the company does to the hens trapped in cages in its supply chain and the customers who’ve asked them to do the right thing and commit to ending the use of cruel cage eggs.

  8. It is great to know Au Bon Pains offers vegetarian and vegan options, but it is strange to me because it is not transparent. Although it made a global cage-free commitment, it is not reporting the progress on this issue.

  9. I was sad to hear recently that Au Bon Pain has been caught up in a huge animal cruelty scandal. I was completely unaware and really sad as it’s one of my favourite spots on campus. Apparently they promised they would move to using cage-free eggs, but they haven’t done this at all and are still serving caged eggs which are just horrible for chickens. I hope they’ll change this soon but I just don’t think I can support them 🙁 especially when tons of other brands have already moved to cage-free eggs.

  10. It’s so sweet to read this but I feel terrible about the lack of transparency of Au Bon Pain in terms of animal welfare. Years ago, the company promise to go cage-free but it refuses to publish its progress

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