Panera’s pay-what-you-want cafe: How’s it doing after a year?

Well, it’s still open for starters.

For every ten customers, Panera says six leave the amount suggested for each food item, two leave more, and two leave less, reports the Associated Press by way of the Washington Post. The most paid for one meal? $500.

Overall, the pay-what-you-want-cafe performs at about 80 percent of a similar retail store, which is enough to generate $3,000-$4,000 a month in “profits” that end up going to a job-training program for at-risk youths.

Only a few take advantage of the system — “lunch on Uncle Ron” as (Panera founder and Chairman Ronald Shaich) calls it. He still fumes over watching three college kids pay $3 for $40 worth of food. Generally, peer pressure prevents that sort of behavior, he said.

“It’s like parking in a handicapped spot,” Shaich said.



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  • Marco van Hout

    I am wondering. Do visitors know profits go to charity? How much influence does the ‘charity’ factor have would then be  my first thought. Did the $500 person really think it was worth that
    money (the food) or did he think the food was good and wanted to help
    the at -risk youths out? Different ball game in that case