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(AP)   Panera restaurant chain trying new pay-what-you-want experiment. Future News: Panera restaurant chain discovers that negotiating with their creditors is certainly no easy task   (hosted.ap.org) divider line 45
    More: Stupid, Panera, Panera restaurant chain, creditors, experiments, suggested retail price  
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2013-03-27 09:03:39 AM  
Didn't read the article subby? Tsk, tsk.

The first pay-what-you-want Panera Cares cafe opened in the St. Louis suburb of Clayton in 2010. Others followed in Dearborn, Mich., Portland, Ore., Chicago and Boston.
 
2013-03-27 09:40:16 AM  
At those nonprofit cafes, every menu item is paid for by donations.

I'd never be comfortable at a pay-what-you-want business but as long as the cafes stay non-profit, this sounds like a neat idea.
 
2013-03-27 10:15:28 AM  
It doesn't always work. Yogaview, which operates three yoga studios in Chicago, tried a donations-only format at its Wicker Park studio for nearly two years before turning to a traditional payment method. Co-owner Tom Quinn said that while many customers were generous, too many others were not. "You'd get a class with six people and there would be 12 bucks in donations," Quinn said. "It got frustrating to see how some people weren't owning up to it."

Who knew hipster yuppies are cheap assholes?
 
2013-03-27 10:16:13 AM  
Interesting. There's a tavern near me that does something like this and it is pretty popular. They have a full menu in place, but during the summer when the outside seating area is open they have a pay-what-you-feel-is-necessary program for their outdoor barbecue selection. Sides and drinks are not included, but you get a good sized plate of beef, pork, corn on the cob, and sometimes various fish selections. They have been doing this for about 4 years and I guess people are fair in what they pay, or they would have discontinued it.
 
2013-03-27 10:51:03 AM  
They are trying this in all cities.  One shop usually for a couple of weeks.  Just enough to garner free media coverage and marketing instead of paying an advertising company to do it for them.


Seems profitable.
 
2013-03-27 10:52:11 AM  
Panera: Revolution is my name!
 
2013-03-27 10:52:33 AM  
Let's see...what's 15% of nothing?
 
2013-03-27 10:53:00 AM  
Subs didn't read much. Panera is experiencing success with these and they are finding they are able to do so because of how they model their system. Through every portion of the process from the person at the door explaining to you how it works, you are constantly guided and reminded of the 'suggested' donation cost and reinforced that the profits get turned in towards food hunger initiatives.

You are sold on donating and they are getting a good ratio of it. About 60% donate more than the suggested, 20% even to the suggested amount, and lastly 20% less then.

It's pretty slick, and a good study on the power of sales.

I will say this however, I don't think you'd have the same success everywhere. I think a lot of it has to do with Panera's clientele type
 
2013-03-27 10:53:28 AM  
Panera has some damn good stuff.  Their ciabatta breakfast sandwiches are phenomenal.
 
2013-03-27 10:53:28 AM  
It'd only be fair if you got to pay after you'd eaten it.  Like how I negotiate with prostitutes.
 
2013-03-27 10:55:39 AM  
I've visited the one in Boston.  It's a great idea.  I'm happy to pay a little more if it means that somebody in desperation pays less or nothing.  I just don't like Panera all that much so I generally don't eat there.
 
2013-03-27 10:58:43 AM  
They're pushing turkey.   Those vicious bastards!

/at war with Turkey
///food allergy
 
2013-03-27 10:58:44 AM  
Through every portion of the process from the person at the door explaining to you how it works, you are constantly guided and reminded

ObamaPanera
 
2013-03-27 10:59:10 AM  
Out of all of them, the Portland OR location is the only one that doesn't turn a profit IIRC.  All the entitled hipsters and our rampant homeless problem make that one the lone failure.  It's right next a Trader Joe's so what do you expect?

/actually love TJs - best cheap chevre out there
 
2013-03-27 10:59:30 AM  
Awesome idea.  Chips away at the cynic in me just a little bit more...
 
2013-03-27 11:01:32 AM  

MyKingdomForYourHorse: I think a lot of it has to do with Panera's clientele type


Namely the clientele eager to pay 7 bucks for a bowl of soup
 
2013-03-27 11:02:43 AM  
I have one of these near me. We call it "Panera Scares" because of the scary customers it has brought into the neighborhood.
 
2013-03-27 11:03:29 AM  
How about pay-what-you-want federal taxes, or is that only for celebrities and CEOs?
 
2013-03-27 11:04:40 AM  

sallys: We call it "Panera Scares" because of the scary customers it has brought into the neighborhood.


They're no one who hasn't been around for over 20 years. I remember some of the crowd at Borders years back. And McDonald's down on Clark, always interesting.
 
m00
2013-03-27 11:05:47 AM  
Susan Wilson is gonna show up and order a thousand bowls. Then a few farkers will call everyone else "haters" and "jealous" for not thinking of it first.
 
2013-03-27 11:05:55 AM  

busy chillin': Panera: Revolution is my name!


Panera: Vulgar Display of Flour!

\m/
 
2013-03-27 11:06:39 AM  
It's pay-what-you-can not pay-what-you-want.  This is an important distinction and is why it works well.  Most people are happy to help someone else get some hot food, much more so than giving spare change to someone on the street.
 
2013-03-27 11:07:12 AM  
This is one of the reasons why I frequent Panera - we don't have those restaurants here in Tulsa, but I love the concept and so I like to spend my money at a place that supports it.

/I'll be first in line when Panera finally comes out with a Panera Gold Card for big spenders...
 
2013-03-27 11:07:17 AM  

MyKingdomForYourHorse: I will say this however, I don't think you'd have the same success everywhere. I think a lot of it has to do with Panera's clientele type


It's almost like instituting the program in one of the wealthier suburbs of St. Louis, walking distance from a private university that costs $40,000/yr would be less risky than doing it at the one next to Kiener plaza where homeless people sleep.

/yes, I know they're going to do it at all the locations
//they started with the clayton one
///the parking lot there is tiny
 
2013-03-27 11:08:57 AM  
It's not a bad idea, having just one, or maybe a few menu items that are "pay-what-you-can". 

People down on their luck, homeless and so on can go in and get a good meal anytime. It's equal to some places that give out free samples on a regular basis, and they seem to be doing just fine.
 
2013-03-27 11:09:35 AM  
Panera.  Big Boy grilled Cheese and Potato soup.  Oh   my   God.
 
2013-03-27 11:10:22 AM  

notmtwain: Didn't read the article subby? Tsk, tsk.

The first pay-what-you-want Panera Cares cafe opened in the St. Louis suburb of Clayton in 2010. Others followed in Dearborn, Mich., Portland, Ore., Chicago and Boston.


I don't know about the other ones, but living in Michigan, I hear that the Dearborn one is doing really really well.
 
2013-03-27 11:10:23 AM  
I like Panera and won't apologize.
 
2013-03-27 11:14:00 AM  

bdub77: It doesn't always work. Yogaview, which operates three yoga studios in Chicago, tried a donations-only format at its Wicker Park studio for nearly two years before turning to a traditional payment method. Co-owner Tom Quinn said that while many customers were generous, too many others were not. "You'd get a class with six people and there would be 12 bucks in donations," Quinn said. "It got frustrating to see how some people weren't owning up to it."

Who knew hipster yuppies are cheap assholes?


Part of the challenge is probably getting people to understand that the business is being operated solely on donations of the customers. If a bunch of kids run a charity carwash for donations, people understand what they're doing and give enough to be comparable to a normal carwash price.

But, if you advertise "free yoga class" and have a "donations" box I can actually understand why some people might interpret that as "tips", especially if you're doing the class in a community center or something. Kind of like the "donations" box at a museum. It's nice to give something, but you don't necessarily feel obligated to.

Panera does a much better job of making it clear that the food is not free + donations, but that you are expected to pay what you consider fair for your food.
 
2013-03-27 11:14:22 AM  

HMS_Blinkin: I hear that the Dearborn one is doing really really well.


the one in Chicago is doing pretty darn well too
 
2013-03-27 11:14:48 AM  
Been to this overrated place 2 times and will never go again. Most overpriced skimpy sandwich I've ever eaten out.
It's like it was made for the Starbucks crowd, who don't mind as long as the place seems hip.
 
2013-03-27 11:15:18 AM  

MyKingdomForYourHorse: Subs didn't read much. Panera is experiencing success with these and they are finding they are able to do so because of how they model their system. Through every portion of the process from the person at the door explaining to you how it works, you are constantly guided and reminded of the 'suggested' donation cost and reinforced that the profits get turned in towards food hunger initiatives.

You are sold on donating and they are getting a good ratio of it. About 60% donate more than the suggested, 20% even to the suggested amount, and lastly 20% less then.

It's pretty slick, and a good study on the power of sales.

I will say this however, I don't think you'd have the same success everywhere. I think a lot of it has to do with Panera's clientele type


Just what I want when I'm hungry and on a 30-minute lunch break:  a sales pitch.
 
2013-03-27 11:15:51 AM  

dukeblue219: Panera does a much better job of making it clear that the food is not free + donations, but that you are expected to pay what you consider fair for your food.


at least at the Chicago location you can also volunteer for an hour and get food that way as well. Sweep the floors, take out the trash or whatever for an hour and get a meal.
 
2013-03-27 11:17:15 AM  

MadTheologian: busy chillin': Panera: Revolution is my name!

Panera: Vulgar Display of Flour!

\m/


By Soup Bowls be Driven
 
2013-03-27 11:17:28 AM  
Not stupid at all, Subby. It is working better than they ever could have believed. People pay what they want, with the understanding that part of the proceeds will used for philanthropic purposes. So, if someone goes to Panera for a bowl of soup that would normally fun four bucks, they fork over a five or a ten and call it even. And the great PR is pulling customers into their restaurants - even the ones not in this program. So far from being stupid, it's actually brilliant.
 
2013-03-27 11:17:50 AM  

doubled99: hip.


"Hip?"
 
2013-03-27 11:20:34 AM  
Isn't this just a repeat from a couple of years ago.

Problem with homeless people or something.
 
kab
2013-03-27 11:22:15 AM  
Hey, bands do this on Bandcamp, and the internet tells me that they make truckloads of money because of it.

So I suspect the same thing will happen here.


*chuckle*
 
2013-03-27 11:23:31 AM  

doubled99: Been to this overrated place 2 times and will never go again. Most overpriced skimpy sandwich I've ever eaten out.
It's like it was made for the Starbucks crowd, who don't mind as long as the place seems hip.


Dude, every single person on the planet goes into a Starbucks, it's hardly got its own "crowd". And Panera is little more than a Dunkin' Donuts with some extra food items and a different color scheme. You need to get out more.
 
2013-03-27 11:25:17 AM  

doubled99: Been to this overrated place 2 times and will never go again. Most overpriced skimpy sandwich I've ever eaten out.
It's like it was made for the Starbucks crowd, who don't mind as long as the place seems hip.


That's exactly what it is, the Starbucks of soup and sandwiches.
 
2013-03-27 11:26:29 AM  

dukeblue219: Part of the challenge is probably getting people to understand that the business is being operated solely on donations of the customers. If a bunch of kids run a charity carwash for donations, people understand what they're doing and give enough to be comparable to a normal carwash price.

But, if you advertise "free yoga class" and have a "donations" box I can actually understand why some people might interpret that as "tips", especially if you're doing the class in a community center or something. Kind of like the "donations" box at a museum. It's nice to give something, but you don't necessarily feel obligated to.

Panera does a much better job of making it clear that the food is not free + donations, but that you are expected to pay what you consider fair for your food.


This.  I've been to the non-profit Panera in Dearborn MI and they practically have it plastered on the walls that this is by donation and how the money is used.  Plus, they still have suggested prices on the menu, which is contributes alot to actually getting the right level of donations (honestly the suggested price might even be higher than the normal price, but people will pay it because they are still donating by their own free will and aren't likely to comparison shop.

As for the Wicker Park example, I live in WP and there are so many yoga studios around (and a Lululemon store) that you could probably do yoga 3-4 times a week and never pay for it.  Plus Wicker Park is an odd combination of yuppie childless professionals, freaks and hipsters.
 
2013-03-27 11:27:29 AM  

MadTheologian: busy chillin': Panera: Revolution is my name!

Panera: Vulgar Display of Flour!

\m/


Bwahahahaha
 
2013-03-27 11:30:03 AM  

MyKingdomForYourHorse: Subs didn't read much. Panera is experiencing success with these and they are finding they are able to do so because of how they model their system. Through every portion of the process from the person at the door explaining to you how it works, you are constantly guided and reminded of the 'suggested' donation cost and reinforced that the profits get turned in towards food hunger initiatives.

You are sold on donating and they are getting a good ratio of it. About 60% donate more than the suggested, 20% even to the suggested amount, and lastly 20% less then.

It's pretty slick, and a good study on the power of sales.

I will say this however, I don't think you'd have the same success everywhere. I think a lot of it has to do with Panera's clientele type


I recall some other business trying this out ( i want to say NYC) and had to stop due to the homeless people taking up residence in the restaurant, yet I recall another diner doing this along a highway and doing fine (since no homeless people live in the middle of nowhere along an interstate).  I think these models work in the correct environment/location.
 
2013-03-27 11:57:20 AM  

DecemberNitro: doubled99: Been to this overrated place 2 times and will never go again. Most overpriced skimpy sandwich I've ever eaten out.
It's like it was made for the Starbucks crowd, who don't mind as long as the place seems hip.

Dude, every single person on the planet goes into a Starbucks, it's hardly got its own "crowd". And Panera is little more than a Dunkin' Donuts with some extra food items and a different color scheme. You need to get out more.


Don't get the Fark Starbucks haters going, they can rant all day. Especially the ones stuck in a time warp who seriously believe that only elitist hipsters drink and work there.

/Maybe everyone seems elitist when you're a grumpy asshole.
 
2013-03-27 10:45:13 PM  
 
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