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(Yahoo)   Panera opens experimental store where what you pay for your food, if anything at all, is up to you. One month later, it's actually still turning a profit. Maybe just a tiny bit of faith in humanity isn't totally unwarranted   (news.yahoo.com) divider line 152
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14301 clicks; posted to Main » on 26 Jun 2010 at 10:45 AM (4 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2010-06-26 10:06:24 AM  
This will work so long as it is a novelty. As soon as anyone tries to make it a business model the novelty is over, and the free ride people will outnumber the honor system people.
 
2010-06-26 10:28:51 AM  
They should open one of these in Chicago and see how it goes.
 
2010-06-26 10:42:08 AM  
This'll never work. Some people will Walk out paying nothing, or next to it, and the staff will get Farking Hostile. It''l just Cast a Shadow on the whole company.

Goddamn Electric
 
2010-06-26 10:48:03 AM  
How is this news? We all know Panera gouges you on prices
 
2010-06-26 10:49:12 AM  
I don't get it...do they pay what they feel like for their ingredients and employees?
 
2010-06-26 10:49:55 AM  
Wrong_Intentions: Some people will Walk out paying nothing, or next to it, and the staff will get Farking Hostile.
Goddamn Electric


Huh? Why would they get hostile if it's allowed.

This will work as long as people believe the profits are indeed going to pay wages and the excess goes to charity.

(or until the gangs of hobos take residence and make the place smell bad)
 
2010-06-26 10:50:11 AM  

Panera opens experimental store where what you pay for your food, if anything at all, is up to you. One month later, it's actually still turning a profit. Maybe just a tiny bit of faith in humanity isn't totally unwarranted


Maybe the profit margins on things like coffee, juice, and bread are so high that they can support the rest of the menu, even at the reduced prices people are willing to pay.

That, and apparently they no longer need to employ staff (in that store) to run the registers.
 
2010-06-26 10:51:14 AM  
As a former Panera employee, I think this could work on a long term basis. The customers are usually friendly and well mannered, the food's pretty damn good, and well, like TFA says, even then for-profit stores donate to charities regularly.
 
2010-06-26 10:51:44 AM  
Wake me up when Ruth Chris' starts this deal.
 
2010-06-26 10:52:29 AM  
strangeguitar: Wake me up when Ruth Chris' starts this deal.

THIS
 
2010-06-26 10:52:46 AM  
MeinRS6: They should open one of these in Chicago and see how it goes.

If it becomes popular, people will say the one in Chicago is better even thought the same thing is in St. Louis and if if sucks, St. Louisians will shove it in Chicago's face that they are better.
 
2010-06-26 10:52:50 AM  
I wonder when Walmart will try this
 
2010-06-26 10:52:55 AM  
Wrong_Intentions: This'll never work

:: narrows eyes ::
 
2010-06-26 10:53:20 AM  
Joce678:
This will work as long as...


c) As long as they only open in wealthy neighborhoods.
 
2010-06-26 10:53:52 AM  
Actually, the article doesn't say if it's making a profit or not.

I would think it's pretty easy to guilt people into paying even if they don't have to. Also, this doesn't make up for their outrageous freaking prices at their normal stores.
 
2010-06-26 10:54:26 AM  
Anyone else find it a little odd that humanity is judged by how much it pays?
 
2010-06-26 10:54:27 AM  
unlikely: This will work so long as it is a novelty. As soon as anyone tries to make it a business model the novelty is over, and the free ride people will outnumber the honor system people.

It's not meant to be a business model. It's explicitly a non-profit store, all of the profits go to charities.

Merely having this store serves as fantastic PR for the company. So if it ultimately takes a loss, it can be viewed as a marketing expense.
 
2010-06-26 10:54:29 AM  
TheotherMIguy: As a former Panera employee, I think this could work on a long term basis. The customers are usually friendly and well mannered, the food's pretty damn good, and well, like TFA says, even then for-profit stores donate to charities regularly.

Except the typical customer will change dramatically once this gets out.
 
2010-06-26 10:54:34 AM  
This will (and already sort of is, as TFA states) be an excellent example of how Teenagers Ruin Everything.
 
2010-06-26 10:55:40 AM  
Wrong_Intentions: This'll never work. Some people will Walk out paying nothing, or next to it, and the staff will get Farking Hostile. It'l just Cast a Shadow on the whole company.

Goddamn Electric


Well, my faith in humanity is Shattered. Too bad this kind of thing is Heresy in the business world. What I wouldn't give for Five Minutes Alone with some of the corporate bigwigs who drive this greed. Totally unBecoming to society.
 
2010-06-26 10:56:32 AM  
Vulgar Display of Corporate Power.
 
2010-06-26 10:56:50 AM  
mab1823: Wrong_Intentions: This'll never work. Some people will Walk out paying nothing, or next to it, and the staff will get Farking Hostile. It'l just Cast a Shadow on the whole company.

Goddamn Electric

Well, my faith in humanity is Shattered. Too bad this kind of thing is Heresy in the business world. What I wouldn't give for Five Minutes Alone with some of the corporate bigwigs who drive this greed. Totally unBecoming to society.


Why are you two abusing capitalization rules?!
 
2010-06-26 10:57:05 AM  
SharkTrager: TheotherMIguy: As a former Panera employee, I think this could work on a long term basis. The customers are usually friendly and well mannered, the food's pretty damn good, and well, like TFA says, even then for-profit stores donate to charities regularly.

Except the typical customer will change dramatically once this gets out.


Let me keep my rosey view of humanity! (Insert pic of "leave britney alone" here.) I get shiat on from the sky by mortars and rockets over here. I want to believe that SOMEWHERE back home things are better.
 
2010-06-26 10:58:23 AM  
Jaakobi: Actually, the article doesn't say if it's making a profit or not.

I would think it's pretty easy to guilt people into paying even if they don't have to. Also, this doesn't make up for their outrageous freaking prices at their normal stores.


This.

If I went to one of these stores, I'd honestly pay what I thought the food was worth. However, that's usually $1-$2 lower than the menu price, at least.

But I had to go lose on one too many work takeout lunch votes before I finally remembered to pack my effing lunch daily. But even when I stopped in recently for a bagel and coffee breakfast... the cream cheese is in little plastic containers? The kind that I have in my fridge next to the Taco Bell packets? Yep, that was worth the extra charge.

Come on.
 
2010-06-26 10:58:27 AM  
TheotherMIguy: SharkTrager: TheotherMIguy: As a former Panera employee, I think this could work on a long term basis. The customers are usually friendly and well mannered, the food's pretty damn good, and well, like TFA says, even then for-profit stores donate to charities regularly.

Except the typical customer will change dramatically once this gets out.

Let me keep my rosey view of humanity! (Insert pic of "leave britney alone" here.) I get shiat on from the sky by mortars and rockets over here. I want to believe that SOMEWHERE back home things are better.


When you return from Iraq, I will personally buy you a $3.50 gift certificate for this restaurant so you can eat as much you please. Hell, invite your whole family. Money is no object.
 
2010-06-26 10:59:19 AM  
Wealthy suburb of St. Louis, as great as this is, it won't work in most places.
 
2010-06-26 10:59:25 AM  
Larry Mahnken: unlikely: This will work so long as it is a novelty. As soon as anyone tries to make it a business model the novelty is over, and the free ride people will outnumber the honor system people.


It's not meant to be a business model. It's explicitly a non-profit store, all of the profits go to charities.

Merely having this store serves as fantastic PR for the company. So if it ultimately takes a loss, it can be viewed as a marketing expense.


All of this. Marketing 101, people.
 
2010-06-26 11:01:37 AM  
Knucklepopper: mab1823: Wrong_Intentions: This'll never work. Some people will Walk out paying nothing, or next to it, and the staff will get Farking Hostile. It'l just Cast a Shadow on the whole company.

Goddamn Electric

Well, my faith in humanity is Shattered. Too bad this kind of thing is Heresy in the business world. What I wouldn't give for Five Minutes Alone with some of the corporate bigwigs who drive this greed. Totally unBecoming to society.

Why are you two abusing capitalization rules?!


Because This Love for profit seemingly makes everyone driven to forget what it's like to be poor. Far Beyond Driven, really.
 
2010-06-26 11:02:47 AM  
mab1823: Wrong_Intentions: This'll never work. Some people will Walk out paying nothing, or next to it, and the staff will get Farking Hostile. It'l just Cast a Shadow on the whole company.

Goddamn Electric

Well, my faith in humanity is Shattered. Too bad this kind of thing is Heresy in the business world. What I wouldn't give for Five Minutes Alone with some of the corporate bigwigs who drive this greed. Totally unBecoming to society.


But this may just give people hope that A New Level of business can be done. They just gotta be careful that the advertising doesn't bring in Floods of people. But for a place that already charges 10's of dollars for food, this would be good for people who Live In A financial Hole right now.
 
2010-06-26 11:02:54 AM  
Joce678: Wrong_Intentions: Some people will Walk out paying nothing, or next to it, and the staff will get Farking Hostile.
Goddamn Electric

Huh? Why would they get hostile if it's allowed.

This will work as long as people believe the profits are indeed going to pay wages and the excess goes to charity.

(or until the gangs of hobos take residence and make the place smell bad)


FTA: 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."

Also FTA: 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."




Sounds like they are playing favoriates. They don't know the teenagers situations, but assume they are freeloaders, while they are fine with helping out a family.
 
2010-06-26 11:03:55 AM  
Pantera rocks!
 
2010-06-26 11:04:11 AM  
mab1823: Knucklepopper: mab1823: Wrong_Intentions: This'll never work. Some people will Walk out paying nothing, or next to it, and the staff will get Farking Hostile. It'l just Cast a Shadow on the whole company.

Goddamn Electric

Well, my faith in humanity is Shattered. Too bad this kind of thing is Heresy in the business world. What I wouldn't give for Five Minutes Alone with some of the corporate bigwigs who drive this greed. Totally unBecoming to society.

Why are you two abusing capitalization rules?!

Because This Love for profit seemingly makes everyone driven to forget what it's like to be poor. Far Beyond Driven, really.


This will only work as long as people don't fall under Temptation's Wings and try to steal the food.
 
2010-06-26 11:04:30 AM  
The Billdozer: mab1823: Wrong_Intentions: This'll never work. Some people will Walk out paying nothing, or next to it, and the staff will get Farking Hostile. It'l just Cast a Shadow on the whole company.

Goddamn Electric

Well, my faith in humanity is Shattered. Too bad this kind of thing is Heresy in the business world. What I wouldn't give for Five Minutes Alone with some of the corporate bigwigs who drive this greed. Totally unBecoming to society.

But this may just give people hope that A New Level of business can be done. They just gotta be careful that the advertising doesn't bring in Floods of people. But for a place that already charges 10's of dollars for food, this would be good for people who Live In A financial Hole right now.


Better not try this in Texas. The first time someone decides not to pay, you're gonna see some Cowboys From Hell.
 
2010-06-26 11:06:39 AM  
trancemission: The Billdozer: mab1823: Wrong_Intentions: This'll never work. Some people will Walk out paying nothing, or next to it, and the staff will get Farking Hostile. It'l just Cast a Shadow on the whole company.

Goddamn Electric

Well, my faith in humanity is Shattered. Too bad this kind of thing is Heresy in the business world. What I wouldn't give for Five Minutes Alone with some of the corporate bigwigs who drive this greed. Totally unBecoming to society.

But this may just give people hope that A New Level of business can be done. They just gotta be careful that the advertising doesn't bring in Floods of people. But for a place that already charges 10's of dollars for food, this would be good for people who Live In A financial Hole right now.

Better not try this in Texas. The first time someone decides not to pay, you're gonna see some Cowboys From Hell.


You could probably pay with a Dimebag in Texas.
 
2010-06-26 11:07:14 AM  
All that said... you know, I could see this working on a smaller scale. One coffeeshop by me already has honor system coffee for the morning rush (pick up your cup, fill it up, put money in the box, leave). I've been to several shows where merch or even the door fees were 'pay what you can', with suggested rates.

That's the type of putting-trust-in-our-clientele thing I like. I like those places or bands, so I'll throw in my share and maybe a bit extra to cover those who can't (or won't, but everyone usually throws in a *little* something, otherwise things would get awkward).

Me throwing in above and beyond at Panera... they won't go out of business if I don't, and I have absolutely no emotional tie to the place. It's a carefully designed corporate entity.

If this fails, that doesn't really tell me much about how good people are or any other crap like that. The small band, touring in random cities, or the local shop that probably got hit harder relatively-speaking in the recession than the larger ones? If those systems fail, then I'll worry.

But the bands generally make out okay or better than they expected, plus a bunch of broke-ass kids get to see a show. And the coffeeshop's still doing their thing... so I assume that's working out fine.

I also once saw a Toronto subway station on the honor system while they ticket office person was on break. They left a sign and a can out with change. My brother and I just stared for awhile and watched folks dutifully put in their fare. Canada's so adorable.
 
2010-06-26 11:08:49 AM  
Technically, the Met and the Museum of Natural History in NYC are free. But above the ticket station there are "recommended" donation prices.
I always donate at least SOMETHING. I think probably most ppl do, particuarly if you know you are getting something in return and the $ is going for a good cause.

/and you don't want to look like a cheap bastard
 
2010-06-26 11:08:52 AM  
www.galeon.com

/got nuttin'
 
2010-06-26 11:10:08 AM  
mab1823: Wrong_Intentions: This'll never work. Some people will Walk out paying nothing, or next to it, and the staff will get Farking Hostile. It'l just Cast a Shadow on the whole company.

Goddamn Electric

Well, my faith in humanity is Shattered. Too bad this kind of thing is Heresy in the business world. What I wouldn't give for Five Minutes Alone with some of the corporate bigwigs who drive this greed. Totally unBecoming to society.


+1 Internet to you both. Please share responsibly as I'd like to make sure it doesn't get Broken.
 
2010-06-26 11:10:08 AM  
A few things about this:

1. I know two of the co-founders of Panera (St. Louis Bread Co.). They are genuinely good people and are doing a mitzvah.

2. This store is in Clayton, a wealthier suburb, however, there is still a large population within the city itself that could use a place like this. It sells the day-old bread and pastries as well. If they didn't have this store to sell the bread, it would all go to waste anyway.

3. The store itself was due to be gutted and remodeled. It would have cost far more than this store could have lost given it's location.

It doesn't mention it, but you can volunteer for an hour instead of paying as well, which I have done on several occasions.
 
2010-06-26 11:10:27 AM  
This will work as long as they are in affluent white suburbs that are a prohibitively expensive drive from the nearest slum/ghetto. If white idiocy and guilt can keep the overpriced stupidity that is Whole Foods in the black, they can probably keep this going as well.

/I wouldn't put one in Long Beach, though...stoners + potentially free cookies = a highly unprofitable mix
 
2010-06-26 11:12:00 AM  
This shows that shame still works, shame always works. Shame is a great motivator.

You actually have a real live person at the start of the line explaining that all profits go to charity and you have a person at the end of the line telling you what your order is worth.

It doesn't take a decent person to pay the full the price. It takes an incredible douche bag to underpay.
 
2010-06-26 11:14:11 AM  
Wait till the pols decide they should pay taxes on the suggested price.
 
2010-06-26 11:14:12 AM  
DeathBoardChairman: A few things about this:

1. I know two of the co-founders of Panera (St. Louis Bread Co.). They are genuinely good people and are doing a mitzvah.

2. This store is in Clayton, a wealthier suburb, however, there is still a large population within the city itself that could use a place like this. It sells the day-old bread and pastries as well. If they didn't have this store to sell the bread, it would all go to waste anyway.

3. The store itself was due to be gutted and remodeled. It would have cost far more than this store could have lost given it's location.

It doesn't mention it, but you can volunteer for an hour instead of paying as well, which I have done on several occasions.


Now that's damned cool.
 
2010-06-26 11:14:34 AM  
fashionablygeek.com

Vulgar Display of Flour?
 
2010-06-26 11:16:18 AM  
Maybe they were overpriced to begin with.
 
2010-06-26 11:16:47 AM  
Panera's full Italian combo sandwich on ciabatta has 1040 calories and 3020mg of sodium. Bon appetit.
 
2010-06-26 11:17:10 AM  
Gwynplaine: This shows that shame still works, shame always works. Shame is a great motivator.

You actually have a real live person at the start of the line explaining that all profits go to charity and you have a person at the end of the line telling you what your order is worth.

It doesn't take a decent person to pay the full the price. It takes an incredible douche bag to underpay.


This.

Society is in the crapper because no one feels shame anymore. Don't want to work for a living because the only jobs you can find are "beneath" you? Well just go on welfare! There's no shame in that!

/how long before someone sues the store for emotional distress because they caused them to feel shame
 
2010-06-26 11:17:13 AM  
Joce678: Joce678:
This will work as long as...

c) As long as they only open in wealthy neighborhoods.


it's gotta be too far for the bums and freegans to walk.

of course once the seagulls find out, it's all over. even before they tell the racoons.
 
2010-06-26 11:17:32 AM  
Great. Now let's do this with taxes.
 
2010-06-26 11:18:35 AM  
Englebert Slaptyback: Maybe the profit margins on things like coffee, juice, and bread are so high that they can support the rest of the menu

This. It's been a long time since I've been in the service industry but coffee & fountain sodas are so ridiculously cheap, you're really only paying for the cup. And even that's only to keep track of inventory. I'm sure the same could be said for their bread, soup, and salads. $8.95 for a bunch of lettuce greens, some nuts/fruit/cheese crumbles, and 1/8th of a pound of chicken? C'mon.

/But I still love Panera
//Soup & salad for $6.99--hard to beat.
 
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