Panera Bread will be closing its last pay-what-you-can restaurant, located in Boston, on Feb. 15.
The move comes after the business’s “nonprofit” restaurant concept became unviable. On Tuesday, Eater reported that none of the restaurant’s five locations was self-sustaining.
The program, Panera Cares, was initially created to serve food to low-income people nine years ago in 2010. The concept was a pay-what-you-want business model in which patrons visiting the restaurant could eat for a donation.
In 2010, Ron Shaich — the company’s founder and former CEO — said that the program’s aim was a “test of humanity.”
“Would people pay for it?” he asked during a TEDxStLouis talk. “Would people come in and value it?”
The answer was apparently “no,” because here we are less than a decade later, with no Panera Cares’ franchises running in the black.
The outlet also reported that through the project’s nine-year run, many of the locations were “mobbed” by homeless people and students who ate without donating. Because of the “mob,” one location was forced to limit its homeless patrons’ meals to a few per week. – READ MORE