It was announced today, Panera Bread has opened a nonprofit location in the St. Louis suburb of Clayton. The new store does not tell customers what to pay for their meals. Rather, it asked them to pay what they'd like to donate, whether it's the full suggested price, less or more.
Duke Marketing sends KUDOs to Panera for a GREAT idea! This is giving back at its best! We worked with Ralph Rubio, founder of Rubio's Restaurants on a similar non profit restaurant, Cabo Cafe.
In 1999, Ralph Rubio and his wife Dione offered Monarch School an amazing opportunity: the Cabo Cafe. The Cabo Cafe was a casual dining restaurant open to the public, developed and operated on the Monarch premises. Cabo Cafe provided job training, real wages to students through part-time employment, and helped support Monarch Programs in many ways.
Ralph Rubio in front of Cabo Cafe
Through hard work, what began as a wonderful opportunity has become a model for self-sufficiency and success. The Rubio’s generously offered their development expertise, major capital gifts and ongoing management guidance. Students enjoyed the academic opportunity to participate in business planning and management, and many are employed by the Cafe.
Cabo Cafe served delicious breakfast and lunch on the Monarch premises. In 2002, the restaurant began operating at a profit for the first time. As a result of the Rubios’ single act of generosity and ongoing support, the Cabo Cafe has begun to spawn fresh, new opportunities by funding programs specially designed for the needs of Monarch students.
Panera's non profit restaurant, according to an Associated Press story in the Cleveland Business Journal, the restaurant is run by a nonprofit foundation and, if it can sustain itself financially, Panera will expand the model around the country within months. The first location bears the name St. Louis Bread Co. Cares.
From the story:
The first location bears the name St. Louis Bread Co. Cares — the chain's former name and one it still uses in its hometown.
Other similar experiments have worked. The One World Salt Lake City restaurant has operated as a nonprofit with pay-what-you-want prices since 2003, said founder Denise Cerreta. She works for a foundation that helps similar restaurants open around the county. She said the places don't get swarmed by crowds and emptied, but have managed to stay afloat based on the honor system.
"It somehow stays in balance," Cerrata said. "I think ultimately people are good. They want to contribute."
Panera is using its nonprofit foundation to support the restaurant and any future locations. The foundation will pay the new restaurant's bills, including staff salaries, rent and food costs. At the end of each month, the foundation will tally donations to see if they cover food costs. The Panera parent company won't bear losses if the experiment fails.