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St. Louis Bob

Panera Bread turning one store into nonprofit operation

What would you do?   64 members have voted

  1. 1. What would you do?

    • AVOID
      15
    • Free lunch!
      6
    • Pay a little less
      6
    • Pay about the suggested price
      29
    • Pay a little more
      5
    • Pay at least double
      1

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59 posts in this topic

By Kavita Kumar

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

05/17/2010

Panera Bread Co. has converted one of its St. Louis Bread Co. stores into a nonprofit operation aimed at raising funds for community groups.

The cafe-bakery store, located at 10 South Central Avenue in Clayton, will operate under the name of "St. Louis Bread Co. Cares."

Under the new model, donation boxes are placed next to the cash registers, which will only be used to make change, and customers will give a donation that they think is appropriate; the menu itself will be offer only suggested prices for items. For customers who can't afford to pay, they will be asked to contribute volunteer time at the cafe, which is staffed by regular employees.

Proceeds will go to pay store costs, and the remainder will go to community organizations, which Panera hasn't identified. The store began operating under this new model on Sunday.

Meanwhile, a store employee said the Clayton store is the first one using this nonprofit model in the chain nationwide, but that Panera hopes to unroll a similar store in other cities in the future.

At the Clayton store today, Panera employees handed out flyers to customers explaining the new model.

Ron Shaich, the company's executive chairman, was at the store today, but he declined to comment.

Last week, Shaich stepped down as Panera's chief executive so he could devote time for other pursuits.

"I have long harbored desires to contribute to the broader world beyond Panera," Shaich said last November when he announced his decision to leave the company's top executive position.

bread

Since this is a nonprofit, there isn't any sales tax added to the receipt so you save about 7.5% right off the top. I heard an interview with the CEO this morning and he said if this works out that they plan on doing this all over the country.

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Needs to be a "I wouldn't step foot in the place" option... Way too weird and awkward for me, I'd avoid it.

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I'm all for helping but I'm boycotting Panera Bread.

ORLY?

Needs to be a "I wouldn't step foot in the place" option... Way too weird and awkward for me, I'd avoid it.

Good point. I would too.

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Thanks for sharing this. Fantastic idea.

J

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It'll be interesting to see if this store can stay in business. I'm sure they'll be ok in the short run but I wonder if this is really a sustainable model.

The one by me stopped serving iced coffee last year (even though they still serve coffee and ice). I haven't been back since.

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Also, "donation boxes next to the register"? Seriously?

Unless there are credit card readers attached to them, it sounds like this is a cash-only store now too then... Dumb if that's the case - zero chance of this working out how they're hoping it will.

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Also, "donation boxes next to the register"? Seriously?

Unless there are credit card readers attached to them, it sounds like this is a cash-only store now too then... Dumb if that's the case - zero chance of this working out how they're hoping it will.

Good point. With so many people paying by credit card you'd think they'd want to figure that out. Should be an easy thing to allow the cashier to set the amount the person wants to "donate" for the food.

J

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I would avoid that place like it had cooties.

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I'd pay less for their PB&J, which is ridiculously priced in the first place.

Also need a "volunteer for food" option in the poll.

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For you guys that say you wouldn't step foot in there - is it because of the charity angle or because you don't like Panera Bread anyways? If it's the charity, why?

J

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I'm all for helping but I'm boycotting Panera Bread.

ORLY?
I don't like the name and the new store in town is horrible looking.

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It'll be interesting to see if this store can stay in business. I'm sure they'll be ok in the short run but I wonder if this is really a sustainable model.The one by me stopped serving iced coffee last year (even though they still serve coffee and ice). I haven't been back since.

I'd expect that as part of the chain it could easily stay in business even operating at a loss. Any tax acct's weigh in on this? Don't know how that business model would work but it could be great for advertising as well as some form of tax break.

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For you guys that say you wouldn't step foot in there - is it because of the charity angle or because you don't like Panera Bread anyways? If it's the charity, why?J

Probably because of the likely clientele. Same reason I don't eat at Applebees.

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Also, "donation boxes next to the register"? Seriously?

Unless there are credit card readers attached to them, it sounds like this is a cash-only store now too then... Dumb if that's the case - zero chance of this working out how they're hoping it will.

Good point. With so many people paying by credit card you'd think they'd want to figure that out. Should be an easy thing to allow the cashier to set the amount the person wants to "donate" for the food.

J

Agreed. You'd think it'd be real easy (and obvious) to accept credit card donations, but at the same time the article definitely didn't read like the were accounting for credit card transactions:

Under the new model, donation boxes are placed next to the cash registers, which will only be used to make change

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It'll be interesting to see if this store can stay in business. I'm sure they'll be ok in the short run but I wonder if this is really a sustainable model.The one by me stopped serving iced coffee last year (even though they still serve coffee and ice). I haven't been back since.

I'd expect that as part of the chain it could easily stay in business even operating at a loss. Any tax acct's weigh in on this? Don't know how that business model would work but it could be great for advertising as well as some form of tax break.
If it's just this one store, sure, maybe they do it for good PR and some tax breaks. But if their goal is ultimately to see if this is a viable model and open stores like this all over the country, they won't be able to operate them all at a loss.

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Paradise Bakery >>>>>> Panera, despite being the same company.

Unfortunately, I just can't see this ending well. There are going to be too many people who do the free meal thing and don't put any time in. I could see it turning into a soup kitchen, and unfortunately that's likely to drive away some of their funding.

Plus, if the idea is for the people who take free food to volunteer, that's likely to either become an administrative nightmare or they're not going to be able to offset the costs they think they'll offset.

It might feed a bunch of people and become a write-off/good press for the company, and if they're OK with that, then good for them I guess. Unless they find some serious benefactors, though, I have a hard time believing they'll actually contribute much to "community organizations".

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It'll be interesting to see if this store can stay in business. I'm sure they'll be ok in the short run but I wonder if this is really a sustainable model.The one by me stopped serving iced coffee last year (even though they still serve coffee and ice). I haven't been back since.

I'd expect that as part of the chain it could easily stay in business even operating at a loss. Any tax acct's weigh in on this? Don't know how that business model would work but it could be great for advertising as well as some form of tax break.
If it's just this one store, sure, maybe they do it for good PR and some tax breaks. But if their goal is ultimately to see if this is a viable model and open stores like this all over the country, they won't be able to operate them all at a loss.
Aren't most Panera's franchises? If that's the case they could spread the model around, as long as each franchise doesn't have to absorb more than one or two.

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I'm all for helping but I'm boycotting Panera Bread.

ORLY?
I don't like the name and the new store in town is horrible looking.
So you have good reasons. Very reasonable.

For you guys that say you wouldn't step foot in there - is it because of the charity angle or because you don't like Panera Bread anyways? If it's the charity, why?J

It's just weird. I'll buy my lunch and I'll donate to charity when I want to. I just imagine everyone looking to see how much each person "donates" and then making assumptions based on that. Clayton is the rich part of town and quite possible the wealthiest in the state.

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Paradise Bakery >>>>>> Panera, despite being the same company.

Unfortunately, I just can't see this ending well. There are going to be too many people who do the free meal thing and don't put any time in. I could see it turning into a soup kitchen, and unfortunately that's likely to drive away some of their funding.

Plus, if the idea is for the people who take free food to volunteer, that's likely to either become an administrative nightmare or they're not going to be able to offset the costs they think they'll offset.

It might feed a bunch of people and become a write-off/good press for the company, and if they're OK with that, then good for them I guess. Unless they find some serious benefactors, though, I have a hard time believing they'll actually contribute much to "community organizations".

I'm pretty sure the only poor people in Clayton reside in the jail.

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For you guys that say you wouldn't step foot in there - is it because of the charity angle or because you don't like Panera Bread anyways? If it's the charity, why?J

1.) Ever been to a Golden Corral and noticed the career buffeters who sit around all day? Take that crowd, add in a bunch of filthy bums off the street, some lower income families with no money and a ton of kids, a few hippies/college kids, and then an occasional altruistic liberal in a nice suit and tie... and that'll be what you're surrounded by while you're trying to eat your lunch. Good luck keeping it down.2.) Ever go to the grocery store and at the check out they ask if you'd like to donate to blah blah blah, and then you have to have that awkard, guilt-ridden exchange where you try to politely say "not today" as if you would've said "sure" had it been a different day of the week or something? I hate it when they sneak that uncomfortable donation request in there like that, can't imagine walking into it willingly. If I want to buy soup and a salad for lunch I don't want my conscience to have to enter the equation at all... If it's a matter of "pay us whatever you're comfortable paying us for this soup" then I, as the customer, now have to stand there and decide what I'm comfortable with, or what amount I'm able to pay, or what's the smallest amount I can pay and not feel guilty and not have to come back after hours and clean out the urinals. Forget that, I'll just go somewhere and buy something the old fashioned way. Tell me how much the stupid soup is and that's what I'll hand you. What you do with it as a company after that is up to you - you can pocket it, you can donate it, whatever. Don't ask me to make donations though.

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I'm all for helping but I'm boycotting Panera Bread.

ORLY?
I don't like the name and the new store in town is horrible looking.
So you have good reasons. Very reasonable.
I'm a complicated man, Bob.

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Paradise Bakery >>>>>> Panera, despite being the same company.

Unfortunately, I just can't see this ending well. There are going to be too many people who do the free meal thing and don't put any time in. I could see it turning into a soup kitchen, and unfortunately that's likely to drive away some of their funding.

Plus, if the idea is for the people who take free food to volunteer, that's likely to either become an administrative nightmare or they're not going to be able to offset the costs they think they'll offset.

It might feed a bunch of people and become a write-off/good press for the company, and if they're OK with that, then good for them I guess. Unless they find some serious benefactors, though, I have a hard time believing they'll actually contribute much to "community organizations".

I'm pretty sure the only poor people in Clayton reside in the jail.
I'm sure the poor people won't hear about the place with the free food. If only there was some kind of cheap public transportation to get them there.

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Paradise Bakery >>>>>> Panera, despite being the same company.

Unfortunately, I just can't see this ending well. There are going to be too many people who do the free meal thing and don't put any time in. I could see it turning into a soup kitchen, and unfortunately that's likely to drive away some of their funding.

Plus, if the idea is for the people who take free food to volunteer, that's likely to either become an administrative nightmare or they're not going to be able to offset the costs they think they'll offset.

It might feed a bunch of people and become a write-off/good press for the company, and if they're OK with that, then good for them I guess. Unless they find some serious benefactors, though, I have a hard time believing they'll actually contribute much to "community organizations".

I'm pretty sure the only poor people in Clayton reside in the jail.
Yet on the news last night they stated they chose the area for it's diversity!?!

Then again the county courthouse is right around the corner making the clientele possibly diverse but not the residents....

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Paradise Bakery >>>>>> Panera, despite being the same company.

Unfortunately, I just can't see this ending well. There are going to be too many people who do the free meal thing and don't put any time in. I could see it turning into a soup kitchen, and unfortunately that's likely to drive away some of their funding.

Plus, if the idea is for the people who take free food to volunteer, that's likely to either become an administrative nightmare or they're not going to be able to offset the costs they think they'll offset.

It might feed a bunch of people and become a write-off/good press for the company, and if they're OK with that, then good for them I guess. Unless they find some serious benefactors, though, I have a hard time believing they'll actually contribute much to "community organizations".

I'm pretty sure the only poor people in Clayton reside in the jail.
I'm sure the poor people won't hear about the place with the free food. If only there was some kind of cheap public transportation to get them there.
:popcorn: True.

Maybe Larry Rice will move his place to Clayton. That. Would. Be. Awesome.

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BUMP

I thought I finally had a thread that all of you political guys would be excited about. :thumbup:

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I'm all for helping but I'm boycotting Panera Bread.

ORLY?
I don't like the name and the new store in town is horrible looking.
So you have good reasons. Very reasonable.
I'm a complicated man, Bob.
:thumbup:Oh, I understand GB.

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I imagine it will be like free Denny's Grand Slam day, but every day.

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1.) Ever been to a Golden Corral and noticed the career buffeters who sit around all day? Take that crowd, add in a bunch of filthy bums off the street, some lower income families with no money and a ton of kids, a few hippies/college kids, and then an occasional altruistic liberal in a nice suit and tie... and that'll be what you're surrounded by while you're trying to eat your lunch. Good luck keeping it down.

Wow.

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1.) Ever been to a Golden Corral and noticed the career buffeters who sit around all day? Take that crowd, add in a bunch of filthy bums off the street, some lower income families with no money and a ton of kids, a few hippies/college kids, and then an occasional altruistic liberal in a nice suit and tie... and that'll be what you're surrounded by while you're trying to eat your lunch. Good luck keeping it down.

Wow.
Lost me here.

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Thanks for sharing this. Fantastic idea. J

Don't suppose you'd be willing to go with this business model with your boats, would ya? If so, I'll give $8.27 for that 35' boat over there.

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It's an interesting idea but I am not sure how comfortable I am having random customers stepping behind the counter and handling my food.

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The great thing about a non-profit is the CEO can still make $10 million. Some of the biggest ripoffs there are is from so-called non-profits. Employees can make tons of money, just not the shareholders.

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Panera Co. to open more pay-what-you-wish eateries

CLAYTON, Mo. – As the first crowd of customers filed into Panera Co.'s nonprofit restaurant here, only the honor system kept them from taking all the food they wanted for free.

Ronald Shaich, Panera's chairman, admitted as he watched them line up that he had no idea if his experiment would work. The idea for Panera's first nonprofit restaurant was to open an eatery where people paid what they could. The richer could pay full price — or extra. The poorer could get a cheap or even free meal.

A month later, the verdict is in: It turns out people are basically good.

Panera, which operates 1,400 franchised and corporate-owned bakery-cafes across the country, plans to expand the nonprofit model around the nation, opening two more locations within months.

"I guess I would say it's performing better than we even might have hoped in our cynical moments, and it's living up to our best sense of humanity," Shaich said in an interview.

Its cashiers tell customers their orders' "suggested" price based on the menu. About 60 to 70 percent pay in full, Shaich said. About 15 percent leave a little more and another 15 percent pay less, or nothing at all. A handful have left big donations, like $20 for a cup of coffee.

The restaurant took in $100,000 in revenue its first month. He declined to say what kind of margin this left between total costs and revenue, but he predicted the restaurant will be able to cover its costs within months and eventually generate extra cash for charitable programs.

Panera's nonprofit plan is the largest example yet of a concept called community kitchens, where businesses operate partly as charities. Customers who need a discount, or even free food, can get it with no questions asked.

Shaich borrowed the idea from a restaurant in Denver and then connected with Denise Cerreta, who runs The One World Salt Lake City restaurant with a sliding scale menu. Cerreta's community kitchen and others he looked into were impressive, Shaich said, but operated on a smaller scale than Panera could afford to run.

The Clayton store is run under the company's St. Louis Bread Co. banner by a nonprofit organization called Panera Cares that publicly traded Panera Co. supports. But Panera won't bear the nonprofit's losses if the experiment fails. For the expansion, Panera spokeswoman Kate Antonacci said, the nonprofit is considering locations that, like Clayton, are upscale but accessible to lower-income customers. In Clayton's case, St. Louis County's offices and court house are nearby.

The Clayton Panera has hardly turned into a soup kitchen. Its longtime business clientele kept the lunch hour busy last week, with well-dressed workers clustered around laptops and talking on cell phones.

Financial adviser Jeff White, 34, said he was a regular at the location before it closed and reopened as the nonprofit in late May and hasn't changed his dining habits. White said he usually rounds up when he pays his tab, because he wants the "intriguing" experiment to succeed.

But there were new customers — drawn to the bargains. Anna and Bennie Ward heard about the pay-what-you-wish model on the news. Anna thought it was too good to be true, so she researched it on the Internet before driving over for lunch with Bennie their two kids.

It was a rare chance for the couple to dine out, Anna said. Bennie is laid off and her only income is from disability checks. The family ordered sandwiches, iced coffee drinks and bread to go.

"Near the end of the month is difficult for us. If it was not for help from friends and community, I don't know where we would get our last meal," Anna Ward said after the meal. "To be able to go there and eat an actual meal and feel full is such a blessing."

Shaich had moments of doubt during the restaurant's first weeks, including when a teenager bought $40 worth of sandwiches to go and put just a few dollars on a credit card.

"You get a little bummed out, and you wonder whether people will get it," he said.

To control freeloaders, signs remind customers that "You're on your honor." Workers stationed at the door, who explain the concept to customers, told a group of teenagers who ate there last week that the store is "not a handout."

Shaich said the nonprofit chain is a challenge to other corporations to push their philanthropy beyond writing checks. More valuable, he said, is to put their supply chains, technology and knowledge to use.

"The fascinating question to me is: Can we take our skills — our core competencies, as we call them in business — and apply them very directly to solving some of the problems" in society, he said. "And not just for publicity, but to make a difference."

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Thanks for the update Bob. Was wondering how that was going. Very cool.

J

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The great thing about a non-profit is the CEO can still make $10 million. Some of the biggest ripoffs there are is from so-called non-profits. Employees can make tons of money, just not the shareholders.

We have a non-profit hospital group in Northern California that is absolutely rolling in money. They are somehow huge players in politics although they do it through some groups they have spun off. Anyway, I think it's time we update our non-profit classification rules.I also think Panera's model here will only work in specific locales. There is no way this survives outside of a predominantly middle class environment.

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The great thing about a non-profit is the CEO can still make $10 million. Some of the biggest ripoffs there are is from so-called non-profits. Employees can make tons of money, just not the shareholders.

We have a non-profit hospital group in Northern California that is absolutely rolling in money. They are somehow huge players in politics although they do it through some groups they have spun off. Anyway, I think it's time we update our non-profit classification rules.
How exactly does that work?I always wondered that with companies like Paul Newman's food thing. Can it be a non profit and the CEO makes 5 million a year? What exactly defines a non profit?J

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A month later, the verdict is in: It turns out people are basically good.

This seems premature. I still stand by this:

It'll be interesting to see if this store can stay in business. I'm sure they'll be ok in the short run but I wonder if this is really a sustainable model.

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The great thing about a non-profit is the CEO can still make $10 million. Some of the biggest ripoffs there are is from so-called non-profits. Employees can make tons of money, just not the shareholders.

We have a non-profit hospital group in Northern California that is absolutely rolling in money. They are somehow huge players in politics although they do it through some groups they have spun off. Anyway, I think it's time we update our non-profit classification rules.
How exactly does that work?I always wondered that with companies like Paul Newman's food thing. Can it be a non profit and the CEO makes 5 million a year? What exactly defines a non profit?J
I really don't know the details, but yes, the executives make millions. Doctors, nurses, technicians, etc. are all on the high end of the pay scales for the area. They also donate quite a bit to other organizations and through some means to political campaigns indirectly.

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The great thing about a non-profit is the CEO can still make $10 million. Some of the biggest ripoffs there are is from so-called non-profits. Employees can make tons of money, just not the shareholders.

We have a non-profit hospital group in Northern California that is absolutely rolling in money. They are somehow huge players in politics although they do it through some groups they have spun off. Anyway, I think it's time we update our non-profit classification rules.
How exactly does that work?I always wondered that with companies like Paul Newman's food thing. Can it be a non profit and the CEO makes 5 million a year? What exactly defines a non profit?J
I'm not in the financial field at all FWIW....I was always under the impression that Non Profit Orgs simply didn't distribute any money to shareholders, but to charities and other programs that support their goals/mission. But they're still free to pay the CEO and all employees whatever they want :shrug:

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