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The recent recession has left customers pinching their pennies and spending more wisely. At the same time, prices in produce and ingredients is skyrocketing, forcing restaurants and grocery stores to raise their food prices dramatically. These unfortunate factors are resulting in many hungry citizens in society, and the Panera pay-what-you-can cafes are attempting to fight the famished.
Panera is a company that is often praised for their socially responsible business practices as they constantly emphasize the importance of a healthy and unified community. The new Panera Pay-What-You-Can cafes are no exception to this standard.
This unique business model emphasizes the unity in community; customers simply pay what they can for their baked goods and food items. There is a recommended donation amount, but they are not pressured to adhere to that price. This model relies on balance to succeed; customers who are financially stable often donate above the recommended price point which balances out with the smaller donations from those with a tight budget.
Panera’s CEO Ronald Saich also recognized the need to maintain the pride of his customers. He didn’t want anyone to feel embarrassed about their contributions and so he removed cashiers from the store. In their place are donation boxes which promote the privacy of Panera’s customers. These donations directly benefit the customers, paying for more ingredients and store upkeep.
The Panera pay-what-you-can cafes are an example of a business model that benefits their communities completely. They provide their consumers with a non-judgmental and affordable shopping experience, as well as creating job opportunities in the society.