business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Chicago Tribune reports that sandwich chain Panera is closing the last of the locations where it was testing a pay-what-you can model. The units have been operating in Chicago; Clayton, Mo.; Portland, Ore.; and Dearborn, Mich., and Boston.

The story notes that “the original idea was to allow customers to give a suggested donation for their food in a bid to raise awareness about hunger across the U.S. The funds collected were supposed to cover the store's operating costs while also paying for those who couldn't afford their food.” However, the company found that the concept simply was not sustainable.

According to the Tribune, “The JAB Holding Co.-owned chain said that those who couldn't afford their food, including homeless patrons, were supposed to eat in-store. That was intended to create a feeling of community, but it also highlighted the tensions that arise when private businesses try to be welcoming for everyone.”
KC's View:
Too bad … it was an idea that captured the imagination, even if it wasn’t workable in real life. It calls to mind the line from Nelson Mandela, that “a Nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but it's lowest ones.”

Good for Panera taking a shot.