Panera's Charitable Restaurants Deemed Successful

Success Is Possible With Pay-What-You-Can Cafés

The recession has curtailed consumer food spending, but some restaurants refuse to let that keep customers away — literally, at all costs. Take the honor-based billing system, for instance: drink and dine, and what you pay is entirely up to you and your conscience. On many occasions, customers don't receive bills but rather "suggested donations."

That's the case at Panera Bread's Panera Cares Community Cafes. One year into opening its first pay-what-you-can concept in Clayton, MO, the national chain's nonprofit cafes have been deemed a success. According to Panera, 60 percent of patrons fulfill the requested "suggested donation," while 20 percent actually exceed the amount; in total, the cafe sees $100,000 a month in revenue. Panera's since opened two more community cafes — one in Dearborn, MI, and another in Portland, OR.

Other establishments are following in the chain's footsteps; even Jon Bon Jovi is opening a pay-what-you-can concept. It's refreshingly hopeful to see that this model can work, even when times are still tough for the average American. Would you welcome the rise of more charitable cafes?

Source: Flickr User samantha celera

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