Please Put One Near Me – Panera Opens 5th “Pay-What-You-Can” Restaurant (Boston)

panera 2Panera Bread Co. is opening its fifth pay-what-you-can model in Boston next month.  The newest Panera Cares cafe will be located across from Boston City Hall, the Boston Globe reported.

“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.

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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)

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23 Responses to Please Put One Near Me – Panera Opens 5th “Pay-What-You-Can” Restaurant (Boston)

  1. Michelle Hart says:

    Nothing says entitlement better than training people to feel entitled to “free food” or whatever they decide it’s worth regardless of quality or effort involved.

    When the jackass running this freak show and his idiot minions decide to accept a paycheck that has ZERO in the rate column then I will be impressed.


  2. elvischupacabra says:

    Like the tax code, the rest of us pay for it. If you don’t think so, go to a regular Panera Bread and pay those steep prices for some sh!tty, hippie-ass food.


    • sundance says:

      I have birkenstocks (found em on the beach) and a sustainable bag (came home from school)…. If I don’t shower… I can go there, fit in, and get my free stuff. How cool is that?


  3. keigh01 says:

    This company is doing an admirable and heartwarming thing for people who have less, and I dream that there will be a day when that is the norm, rather than something that is criticized.


    • sundance says:

      sweeeet. Can companies begin a pay-what-they-can pay compensation scale?


    • stellap says:

      Honestly, when I can’t afford to go out, I stay home and prepare my own lunch/dinner. That’s what I did when I was forced to work part time, and I still do it most of the time, and save the difference. THAT is what people should be learning, NOT that they deserve something they can’t afford. It is wrong to encourage that kind of thinking. If you are really broke, you can get public assistance, or help from a food pantry, then donate to the food pantry when you are ahead of the game.


      • Sharon says:

        “…. when I can’t afford to go out, I stay home and prepare my own lunch/dinner.” That’s what we do, too.

        As all this nonsense plays out, I sure hope when it settles it turns out that there are more of us (that pay retailers the price they charge in order to stay in business, which does require making a profit) than there are of them (who expect to not have to pay market price for needs of life…). If we don’t out-number them, all of the paneras will be closed pretty soon and there will be nothing for any of us to eat, because the farmers will have quit farming because the government is forcing them to give commodities away for less than it costs to produce them.


  4. stellap says:

    Well, since this is a non-profit arm of the real Panera, they get the props for “caring”, AND free advertising for their for-profit stores, while still being able to use all of the “non-profit” tax incentives.

    ADD: They may “care”, but they aren’t stupid.


  5. Sharon says:

    Shoot–wish I’d known about this before we did our Christmas-shopping. I would have picked up a couple of $500 gift cards at paneras and paid $13.72 for them. Such a deal.

    Like stellap points out, this is a NON-PROFIT operation!!! Funny how that works…..

    keigh01, since they specifically must not and cannot “make a profit,” where will they get the money to buy more stuff to make more food? hmmmmm? Oh, oh! I bet I know! SOME of the people who eat there will pay WAY MORE than the price being asked and that way, it’ll all work out. Or something.


    • brutalhonesty says:

      money to run the place ie replace product, is overhead, not profit. so thats where it will come from sharon.


      • stellap says:

        Did Sharon say otherwise? It’s a matter of semantics. Anyway, we have nothing against non-profits, but we DO object to companies that encourage a feeling of entitlement in those who would otherwise be either unable, or unwilling, to pay. There are other non-profits – such as the Salvation Army, and community food pantries – that provide for those who are truly needy.


      • Sharon says:

        Oh. I thought that if people are able to take their stuff without necessarily paying what it cost to produce in the first place (overhead) that there would eventually (sooner rather than later) not be enough overhead to replace produce. So I guess the people who take stuff for whatever they want to pay (instead of their payment being tied to what it actually cost to produce the food) will be careful to pay enough so that there’s always enough in “overhead” to replace it. Sorry. My mistake. I’m not an accountant as you can see.


  6. jordan2222 says:

    I was hoping this story was about honesty so on that subject, let me say this.

    I can remember “coke” machines when a belly washer cost a nickel. When you put in the nickel, you could then slide a bottled drink down a groove and pull it out.

    Then they went up to seven cents. Yes, seven, not six cents.. it was a quite a price jolt for po’ folks.

    Rather than change the coin mechanism, stores installed “honor” boxes on the side and you were expected to deposit two pennies into that box PLUS drink it there and leave the bottle when you finished.

    That was during those crazy OLDEN DAYS. What the hell was wrong with us?


    • stellap says:

      I loved those thick, green glass, 6-ounce bottles. They would slide out of the machine covered with frost, sometimes. They were still a nickel at the place I worked in the summer of 1964. I still think 6 ounces is the perfect amount of Coke.


      • jordan2222 says:

        I swear I believe they were stronger than the 10 or 12, and later, 16 ounce sizes. They could bring tears to your eyes but a lot of drinks were like that, with Frostie Root Beer being in the top ten.

        Many years later a company called Jolt tried to bring them back with “twice the sugar and caffeine” drinks that could actually give you a headache.

        In parts of the South, all drinks were called “CoColas,” and if you asked for one, you would be asked what kind of “CoCola” would you like?

        I guess it was sort of like all refrigerators (aka ice boxes) were called Frigidaires at one time but I still like ice boxes.

        Women were featured in ads drinking coke for extra energy and smoking camels or lucky strikes during a break when doing housework.

        What every happened to housewives?


  7. YORKIEMOM says:

    How I miss those olden days! I grew up in the `50s and it was a magical time. Wouldn’t trade those memories for anything. We sure got a rookin’ since then.


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