Panera ends pay-what-you-can experimentVox 02/06/2019
Panera founder Ron Shaich had a bold, altruistic idea when he introduced Panera Cares stores, which allowed customers to pay the suggested price of meal items — or less or more, as they liked and were able. Mr. Shaich believed that customers would do the right thing, and he contends they pretty much did. He says more than half paid the suggested prices and 20 percent actually paid a premium. The remaining 20 percent did pay less — or in some cases, nothing at all. And so the decision to close the last of five Panera Cares after six years in operation was because the pricing scheme backfired, says Mr. Shaich, but more so due to unresolved problems with staff and customers who took issue with the homeless people who frequented the spaces.