A great sandwich, an excellently brewed cup of coffee, and first-class ambience makes for a fine lunch–especially with a friend or family member thrown in for good measure. Such a place is Panera Bread, and although there has never been one where I live, in my travels I have visited many of them and have always enjoyed the experience.
This morning I learned that the company has now established a non-profit site that is serving up its food with a pay-what-you-can philosophy.
Panera Bread Co. has reopened a downtown Clayton location as a nonprofit where customers can pay what they can afford.
“Take what you need, leave your fair share,” says a sign at the entrance of the Saint Louis Bread Company Cares Café. Patrons who can’t pay are asked to volunteer their time.
The café, which reopened Sunday as a nonprofit, has cashiers who provide receipts with suggested prices and direct customers to the store’s five donation boxes. The menu is the same, except for the day-old baked goods brought in from sister stores in the area. The money goes to help the hungry and train troubled youth.
“I’m trying to find out what human nature is all about,” Ron Shaich, who stepped down as Panera’s CEO last week but remains as chairman, told USA Today. “My hope is that we can eventually do this in every community where there’s a Panera.”
What an amazing, generous act. Kudos to this great company, Panera Bread. One more thing: Lake Havasu could surely use one of these places. 🙂