Last night my local news featured a story on The Panera Bread restaurant chain having opened its third “Panera Cares” cafe in Portland, Oregon. Two others were opened in the past year: one in Dearborn, MI (near Detroit) and the first in St. Louis, MO. These cafes have the same food choices on the menu as all other Paneras with one difference: there are no prices listed. Meals aren’t free, rather a “pay what you can” concept has been introduced. I heard the reporter state that while most customers pay what would be considered the regular price, many pay more so as to give something back. Any extra monies are given to local job training programs benefiting at-risk youth.
“There are a lot of folks out there who question whether this could ever work. In many ways, this is a test of humanity,” said Ron Shaich, the company’s founder.
I do enjoy the variety of Panera’s menu and while some items are too calorie-laden for me, I am happy to support a company that tries to do something for the greater good. Give me that over a 30 ounce “Trenta” any day of the week.
For more information visit their website or watch the video below: