Meshuggah doesn't allow cell phones at the counter, either, probably for this same reason. In this day of texting, and social networking, we have almost forgotten how to interact with each other as people. At Meshuggah, we are reminded of this.
Besides, these few minutes of waiting allow you to perhaps overhear a snippet of interesting conversation, or read a bit of an interesting book, or peruse the New York Times. Or just stare off into space, as Lupe often does, in the morning before drinking her Cafe Du Monde, as it comes.
Panera has a great bakery and a lot of really good salads and sandwiches. The old St. Louis Bread Company was of a higher quality, but for a chain Panera is very good. Lupe eats there very often and also likes the chess tables and the fireplace.
Several staff people at Panera are counted among Lupe's favourite people in the Loop.
Lupe cannot recall every noticing if music is ever played in there, but it is definitely the noisiest (and largest) of the three.
Generally, you can count on the bakery (and bakery staff!) to be good, and they have decent coffee. This is also the best place to watch a chess game.
If you want a fancy coffee-like drink and to sit and people watch, Starbucks is the place. It is all glass windows inside and big patio outside. As far as the drinks go they are quick and professional and consistent. The music will be something corporate packaged, but probably eclectic and decent.
(Lupe has had too many bad experiences with Starbucks pastries and food in too many different locations, so she does not eat at any of the chain.)
Hope this was helpful!! Lupe is off to get a Cafe du Monde from Meshuggah!
See you in the Loop!!!