A story in the Detroit Free Press last week detailed the success of the three Panera Cares Cafes in Michigan, Missouri and Oregon. I hadn't heard of them, and was a bit surprised to read about Panera locations where you can pay the suggested price, pay more, pay less, or pay nothing at all.
From the article: "In many ways 'it was a test of humanity,' says Ron Shaich, president of the Panera Bread Foundation and executive chairman of the Panera Company. 'We didn't know if people would help each other or take advantage.'"
According to Panera sources quoted in the article, about 20% of patrons pay more than the suggested price and about 20% pay nothing at all. The remaining 60% pay the suggested price. Overall, the stores are breaking even, collecting about 80% of the retail value of the food purchased.
Panera Cares Cafes in other cities will most likely be coming soon.
Here's the full story: Panera's successful pay-what-you-can cafe in Dearborn inspires others