The Panera Café, currently the ‘best performing restaurant stock’ over the past decade, has found a greater spirit of success after establishing the Panera Cares Community Café–a business model wherein customers regardless of financial background or social status may pay only what they can afford. Though it may initially seem like a model destined for eventual failure due to potential uncertainties in financial returns, founder and CEO Ronald Saich had a concrete plan:
The idea is to empower people in communities to take care of each other. The cafés employ people on the lower end of the economic spectrum, which makes them more dedicated to the business, and the cafés even have a job-training program for at-risk youth. Instead of cashiers, payment is submitted in donation boxes in order to protect patrons’ dignity, something that proved incredibly important.
After opening the first café in Clayton, MO, Saich has revealed that about 20% of customers leave more money than the suggested donation. Not only has he proven the success of the pay-what-you-can model, but in a promising way, Saich has shown that people can still be trusted with paying for their meals.
[via Triple Pundit]