Hoboken: Needles, Fights Force Panera Restaurant To End Indoor Dining

Source: Patch.com New Jersey

The Panera restaurant on Hoboken’s Washington Street stopped their dine-in service a week ago — despite having space with many booths and tables — “for the safety of our customers,” an assistant manager told Patch on Friday.

New signs were spotted inside and outside the restaurant this week, letting customers know.

The restaurant has anchored a spot on the 300 block of Washington Street, the mile-square city’s main drag, for more than a decade. This is the first time they’ve taken this action in response to safety concerns.

An assistant manager who didn’t want her name used, said Friday that people have become “more aggressive” in the restaurant, and that there was a fight recently in which people were throwing chairs.

“We don’t want somebody to get hurt,” she said. “We feel sorry for our other customers, but safety comes first.” The assistant manager said that the action was long in coming.

Fights were not the only issue — that many needles have been found in the bathroom as well. She said she has been told the problem has gotten worse during the past year.

The manager said she didn’t know yet if the change will be permanent.

Hoboken residents commenting on the matter noted that the problems may be related to homelessness, as the shelter is around the corner. The city of Hoboken recently hired two full-time staff members to assist in helping the homeless population.

Preventing people from becoming homeless may also be necessary, as rents in Hoboken have risen to become among the highest in the nation.

Panera was not the only location on that block to take the action. The Starbucks location two doors north of Panera, at 314 Washington St., took away its sit-down service early last year.

In Jersey City, a McDonalds in the Journal Square area is said to have to mobile after hours service about a month ago.

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