Consumerist - Panera Bread's noble experiment in pay-what-you-want retail has been successful at its first two restaurants in St. Louis and Detroit, taking in about 80% of the retail price of the food they serve. They serve as shining reminders of the fundamental goodness of people. In the Midwest, anyway. Until recently, the third free-will restaurant in Portland, Oregon was faltering, not attracting enough paying customers and losing money. It turns out that the down-and-out in Portland like to eat free food and linger. For hours on end. While the point of the eatery is to help people out, the experiment was never intended as a homeless shelter. The business model depends on attracting customers who will pay retail for their meals, and some who will pay a little extra. There's a difference between a restaurant with a diverse clientele and a day shelter with paintings of bread on the walls, and the restaurant began to resemble the latter. "We had to help them understand that this is a café of shared responsibility and not a handout," Panera founder Ron Shaich told the Portland Tribune. "It can't serve as a shelter and we can't have community organizations sending everybody down."
"We had to help them understand that this is a cafe of shared responsibility and not a hand out." Umm, no, if that was the message you wanted to send you'd put prices up on the menu like every other restaurant in the history of restaurants. No one's going to share the responsibility voluntarily, no one with a brain anyway. You know what I'm not doing this afternoon? Going to lunch at a soup kitchen, because I can afford to buy my lunch somewhere bums aren't hanging out.
Who Panera is kidding here, it just sounds like residents of Oregon are a bit smarter than the good, but simple, people of St. Louis and Detroit. I don't know what the hell is the matter with those guys, but if you tell me I can have a sandwich for free, I'm sure as shit not paying upwards of 80% of its value for it. I'll leave my servers a couple buck tip in their jar, but that's about it. What the hell were these simpletons in Detroit and St. Louis doing? Take a cue from Oregon guys, if someone's giving you something for free, don't pay them for it. That's illogical. Like Detroit, you guys are broke as fuck. You're in no position to be paying for free sandwiches, it's stupid financial decisions like this that sunk your city in the first place.