Lesley Kennedy

Restaurant’s Pay-What-You-Want Menu a Hit

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Just when you were about to lose faith in humanity, along comes the story of Panera Cares Cafes.

 

Honestly, it’s an idea that any cynic would scoff at: Panera Bread company opens a few nonprofit restaurants. There are no prices listed on the menu, just suggested donations. The idea is that anyone who needs a meal can get one — for a little, or even for free.

 

If you’re of a cynical frame of mind, you might think that those donation bins accumulated mostly spare change and dust. Wrong. It turns out, the cafes have been a success — so much so, in fact, that Panera is set to launch more of them, as USA Today reports.

 

Hooray for humanity!

 

“We didn’t know if people would help each other or take advantage,” Ron Shaich, executive chairman of Panera Bread, tells the newspaper. “To put it simply, these are nonprofit community cafes of shared responsibility. They will only survive and self-sustain if people in those communities do their part.”

 

Turns out the folks frequenting the cafes in Dearborn, Michigan; Clayton, Missouri; and Portland, Oregon, are, indeed, doing their part. USA Today reports 60 percent of diners pay the suggested amount, 20 percent pay more and 20 percent pay less or nothing, allowing the restaurants to cover costs and break even.

 

“That’s the only way they will stay open,” Kate Antonacci, Panera Cares project manager, tells the newspaper. “These are not free cafes. … Once [customers] really understand what we’re trying to do, that leaving just a quarter more will help the person behind them, people will understand that this is an easy way to help somebody out.”

 

And, it seems, it’s a way to pay it forward with dignity. As USA Today notes, signs in the Dearborn cafe simply, wisely read: “We are not about a handout. We are about a hand up for those who really need it.”

 

 

 

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14 Responses to “Restaurant’s Pay-What-You-Want Menu a Hit”

  • GG says:

    ARE YOU PEOPLE HONESTLY AND ACTUALLY STUPID ENOUGH TO BELEIVE THEY ARE GOING TO OPEN ANY NON-PROFIT RESTAURANT IN MINORITY AND HOMELESS-BASED AREA?? LOL-LOL-LOL!! YEAH, RIGHT!!

    PANERA BREAD IS GOING TO OPEN THESE TYPE’S OF RESTAURANTS IN ONLY THREE TYPE’S OF AREA’S.

    1. IN PREDOMINANTLY WHITE GUILT-RIDDEN LIBERAL AREA’S, WHERE A LOT OF ULTRA STUPID, DUMB, NAIVE, GULLIBLE, AND BRAINWASHED BLEEDING-HEART LIBERALS LIVE, WHO ACTUALLY BELIEVE THIS KIND OF CRAP AND NONSENSE.

    2. IN PREDOMINENTLY WHITE MIDDLE CLASS AREA’S THAT HAVE A VERY LARGE POPULATION OF BRAINWASHED, GULLIBLE, AND NAIVE RELIGIOUS ZEALOTS, MORONS, FINATICS, NUT CASES, AND IDIOTS WHO ARE ACTUALLY BELIEVE ALL LIE’S, B.S., AND NONSENSE FED TO THEM JUST BECAUSE SOME BODY TELLS THEM IT’S TRUE WITHOUT ANY FACTS, PROOF, OR EVIDENCE TO SUBSTANTIATE, SUPPORT AND/OR BACK IT UP.

    3. IN AREA’S WHERE ABSOLUTLEY NO MINORITIES OR HOMELESS PEOPLE LIVE WHO ARE THE ONE’S THAT CAN BENEFIT, USE, AND TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT.

    I HATE TO BREAK IT TO YOU PEOPLE, BUT THE FACT IS, THIS IS NOTHING MORE THEN A PUBLICITY STUNT …………. PERIOD!!

  • sirius ashley says:

    May I pay portionately via the quantity I want to eat. Many, many people have very small appetites.

  • Ed Craft says:

    While everyone is going ga-ga (not as in Lady G) please note:Panera’s prices are over the top. They charge fine dining prices for basic fast food with an extremely low overhead since they bake on premises. So, no surprise they are boasting this “charitable?” thing because, in the end, we’re all paying for it. The naivety and gullibility of people never ceases to amaze. “Hey, let’s jump on that band wagon over there!”

    • GG says:

      OH, HO, HO, VERY, VERY WELL SAID. I TOO CANNOT BELEIVE JUST HOW NAIVE, GULLIBLE, AND STUPID MOST ALL THE PEOPLE ARE IN THIS COUNTRY. LOOK AT HOW THEY ALL ACTUALLY BELEIVE OBAMA GOT ELECTED INTO OFFICE AND HOW THE MEDIA BACKS THAT CLAIM TO THE HILT, WHEN IN FACT THIS FRAUD, WITH THE HELP OF HIS MOST TRUSTED CORRUPT FRIENDS, RIGGED, TAMPERED, FIXED, HACKED, AND CHEATED HIS WAY INTO OFFICE. THERE IS SO MUCH EVIDENCE TO THIS, BUT YOU WON’T HEAR OR SEE ANY OF IT BECAUSE HE HAS EVERYONE IN THE CORRUPT MAINSTREAM MASS MEDIA TO POLITICIANS TO THE COURTS/JUDGES HELPING TO MAKE SURE NOTHING EVER SEE’S THE LIGHT OF DAY. IT’S ABSOLUTLEY SICKENING JUST HOR CORRUPT, VILE, DECEPTIVE, AND DESPICABLE THE WHOLE THING IS.

  • redsongia says:

    “Pay what you can” restaurants are an old idea. A book from the 30s by Anzia Yezerska captures this ethic and compares it to other early 20th century models for charity in her novel The Bread Givers.

  • Heather says:

    Nice! I often hesitate to give change on the street, because I know that many will buy alcohol or drugs. I like that Panera, with the ability to buy and bake bread in bulk, is acting as a “spare change” kitty while tossing in their own extra inventory to feed local people in need. Those who are critical that some will take advantage probably don’t realize that if you turn up at your local Panera everyday, people begin to know you and abuse is really much harder than in an anonymous transaction.

  • anne head says:

    Nice idea, but I notice some pay nothing for the food they consume, Why? Some may not be able to afford itb but how many can pay and choose not to? Hope they don’t allow take home boxes!

  • Josh says:

    Wow, three cheers for Panera Bread ! ! !

  • carrie says:

    Where is the location in Dearborn?

  • ron scott says:

    The concept of pay what you can was originally started by Denise Ceretta, of Canton, Ohio .. she put it into place when living in Salt Lake City, Utah when she opened ONE WORLD EVERYBODY EATS / ONE WORLD CAFE in 2003 .. she started the movement and advised and consulted Bon Jovi and Panera when they started ……look her up …

  • FelMunger says:

    This is fantastic. Bon Jovi started, Panera adds to it. More Restaurant chains should follow suet in depressed areas to help out our fellow Americans in these bad times. More people should pay it forward if they can.

    My friends and I have done this several times. Pay it forward people. It will make things so much better for a lot more people.

  • Kimberly says:

    I’m glad Panera has this program but if you want to really know who came up with the concept it is Jon Bon Jovi. He opened up a restaurant with this type of menu and if you cannot pay you can also offer to do jobs within the restaurant to pay for your meal.

    Pretty nice idea to keep the hungry fed in the US!!!

  • Donna says:

    I am very impressed! It makes me so proud to know fellow man has awaken to help others! I look forward to the Cafes coming to Northern California. I will do what ever it takes to help promote and support the success in this enterprise!
    Remember, it may be YOU who needs a hand some day!
    Please help support this business that it may continue to successfully help people and to initiate like- spirited enterprises as well!
    Thank you!

  • Leora says:

    Hurray for my former Michiganers & for
    Panera Cafes !!
    What a wonderful idea & so proud of all the
    people who are taking an interest in helping
    our less forunate neighbors…..
    We could use one in Florida…we have lots of
    homeless & unemployed here.

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