Pay-as-you-can, come as you are

There are few things I love more than a good bread bowl, but this definitely trumps all bread bowls!

The Northeast Portland Panera Bread restaurant closed Tuesday, 1/16 and will reopen this Sunday as the company’s third pay-as-you-can community cafe in the nation.  When the cafe reopens on Sunday, it will be renamed the Panera Cares Community Cafe.

There will be no menu prices.  There will be no cash registers.  Just suggested donations and donation bins.  “One of the goals of the program is to make sure that everyone who needs a meal gets one,” the restaurant said in a press release last fall.  This is the newest cafe in the program; the two other community cafes are in Dearborn, MI and Clayton, Mo.  According to the Panera Bread Foundation, 60 to 70% of the customers at the first two locations pay in full, 15% pay more and 15% less or nothing.

Why Portland?  Why Dearborn?  Why Clayton?  “It needed to be accessible to people who need it and accessible to people who will sustain it,” said a spokesperson.  I wonder what would happen if more corporations followed this model of sustaining itself while sustaining the people who need a hand up sometimes…


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