Pay-what-you-can Panera

Panera Bread has just started a very interesting experiment: a community outreach restaurant where customers pay what they can afford. The sign at the entrance says it all:¬† “Take what you need, leave your fair share.”

Panera, called St. Louis Bread Company in its hometown, opened St. Louis Bread Company Cares in Clayton, Missouri on Sunday. More such non-profit eateries  (branded Panera Cares) may be on the way.

Here’s a bit more on the venture:

From a food waste perspective, the store sells day-old baked goods from other Paneras (but the sandwich bread is baked that day). That’s a useful outcome for those items, and it’s especially heartening given the previous news that some Panera franchises have poured bleach on their discarded food to prevent Dumpster diving.

The St. Louis Bread Company Cares has the regular prices listed as a guide, and it will be fascinating to see whether customers pay enough so that the non-profit restaurant is self-sustaining. Hopefully it will, as it’s sure to sustain some folks down on their luck.

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