Panera Cares is a café that, quite literally, gives back to the community. People are encouraged to take what they need and donate their fair share. There are no prices or cash registers, only suggested donation levels and donation bins.
It’s a concept that seems destined for failure but founder and CEO Ronald Saich has a concrete plan to empower people in communities to take care of each other. The cafés employ people on the lower end of the economic spectrum, which makes them more dedicated to the business, and job-training programs are available for at-risk youth.
After opening the first café in Missouri, Saich revealed that about 20% of customers leave more than the suggested donation.