It was a typical weekday morning, the rush hour in full swing, and Au Bon Pain operator Jim Miner stood front and center at the entrance of his new store in New York’s Penn Station, one of the city’s major commuter rail hubs. Posing as a typical customer, I asked him about the smoked salmon-wasabi sandwich on a dill bagel that was featured on a large poster hanging by the entrance. Miner, who’s worked at the grab-and-go bakery concept for some 20 years, took the time to ...

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