Friday, January 28, 2011

Portland Restaurant and Nonprofit: Panera Cares Cafe

Posted by Kelly

What: Panera Cares Cafe
Where: 4143 NW Halsey St
Honeys Heart: "Take what you need, pay what you can"

On January 16th the Panera Bread Foundation opened it's third non-profit Panera Cares Cafe. This unique restaurant has all of the menu items as a traditional Panera Bread bakery and looks exactly the same, but it is definitely different!

The Panera Cares Cafe has no set prices. Each menu item has a suggested donation to give people an idea of what it would cost in their traditional cafes, but there are no cash registers or "pay here" signs. Customers are encouraged to take what they need and pay what they can in the donation boxes scattered throughout the restaurant.

Now don't get all excited and start plotting the ways to exploit this unique business model. This is not a food bank and the Panera Bread Foundation is not looking to offer hand outs, in many ways it is testing is testing you. The cafe can only continue to operate if most people pay the suggested amount, others who can are encouraged pay extra and those you can't are still able to still have a good meal and if they would like they can volunteer an hour of their time.

The Portland's Hollywood district was chosen as the third cafe in the nation because it is easily accessible via public transportation and the neighborhood attracts an eclectic mix of customers, which is necessary for the Cafe's success.

Personally I'm excited to have a sandwich and support this nonprofit...I'll feel good about paying a little extra for lunch today!