“Nobody thought this could be done,” Panera founder and Co-CEO Ron Shaich said. Panera Cares’ donation-based concept asks customers to pay the suggested retail price, more or less, depending on what they can pay. “I love figuring it out and seeing how it could work.”
Panera is spending $1 million to open the store; vendors donated $80,000 worth of furniture, lighting and other items.
The first Panera Cares opened in May 2010 in Clayton, followed by others in Dearborn, Mich.; Portland, Ore.; and Chicago.
Panera Cares restaurants bring in between 70 percent and 75 percent of the retail value of the food served, meaning about 60 percent of customers pay the full price for food, 20 percent pay more and 20 percent leave less. Panera Cares is run by the Panera Bread Foundation, a nonprofit outpost of the St. Louis-based bakery and restaurant chain.
St. Louis-based Panera (Nasdaq: PNRA), known locally at St. Louis Bread Co., owns and franchises 1,625 bakery-cafes nationwide. Led by Shaich and Co-CEO Bill Moreton, the company posted a profit of nearly $136 million on revenue of $1.8 billion last year. (article)