“Take what you need, leave your fair share” is the concept behind Panera Bread Co.’s three pay-what-you-want cafes.
And the experiment seems to be working. The bakery and restaurant chain, with more than 1,400 stores nationwide, plans to open two more such eateries this year, the company announced Thursday.
It’s the chain’s way of helping feed the hungry in a dignified way and its been good for business overall, Panera officials said. They’ll announce locations of the new restaurants in the spring.
It’s a simple concept: Panera lists a suggested price for food, but customers pay what they want at its cafes in suburban St. Louis; Portland, Ore.; and Dearborn, Mich.
Only a few take advantage of the system, Panera officials said. About 15 to 20 percent of customers pay more than the list price, and about the same percent pay less or nothing. The intention is that these restaurants will take in enough cash to cover their expenses. If money is left over, restaurants use it to help needy people by feeding them or giving them jobs.
So making a profit and doing good appears to be a sustainable business model? Do you think we can expect more restaurants to follow suit?