Experiment Fails Again

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Experiment Fails Again

by baldilocks

Who could have pre­dicted this?

While Pan­era Cares billed itself as a “non-​profit” restau­rant designed to feed low-​income peo­ple, the busi­ness model was any­thing but. Rather than cre­ate a char­i­ta­ble orga­ni­za­tion that dis­trib­utes food to needy fam­i­lies or a dis­count out­let or even a $1 menu (like every other fast-​food restau­rant), Pan­era tried to cre­ate a social­ist sys­tem in which meals were offered at a sug­gested dona­tion price. That means some peo­ple would pay more while oth­ers would pay less based on what they felt like or could afford. By not sim­ply offer­ing food at a low price (hat-​tip, Dol­lar Tree), Pan­era com­pletely removed any incen­tive for patrons to meet even the low­est stan­dards of consumer/​retailer exchange. The result: some peo­ple paid their fair share while oth­ers enjoyed a “free lunch.” (…)

Pan­era Cares went on to open five loca­tions in cities like Dear­born, Port­land, Chicago, Boston, and St. Louis. None of the restau­rants were self-​sustaining, with some loca­tions report­edly being “mobbed” by stu­dents along with home­less peo­ple look­ing for a free meal.

The Portland-​based Pan­era Cares was report­edly only recoup­ing between 60 and 70 per­cent of its total costs,” reports Eater. “The losses were attrib­uted to stu­dents who ‘mobbed’ the restau­rant and ate with­out pay­ing, as well as home­less patrons who vis­ited the restau­rant for every meal of the week. The loca­tion even­tu­ally lim­ited the home­less to ‘a few meals a week.’”

The last Pan­era Cares – in Boston – will close in ten days.

I remem­ber when Pan­era launched this PWYW con­cept and resolved to stay out of there (I didn’t know at the time that LA wasn’t one of the cho­sen cities.) It was easy to see who would take advan­tage and what would become of the restau­rants. See: Star­bucks’ bath­room pol­icy and pub­lic libraries.

Credit, how­ever, must be given to the major­ity own­ers of Pan­era, how­ever. There are a lot of pro­po­nents of social­ism among the owner/​CEO class, but few are will­ing to lay their bot­tom line on the altar so openly. Share­holder revolt? Probably.

I won’t even ask whether other big cor­po­rate own­ers will learn from this. There’s only so much virtue sig­nal­ing most are will­ing to display.

Juli­ette Akinyi Ochieng has been blog­ging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here. She pub­lished her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

Fol­low her on Face­book, Twit­ter, MeWe, and Gab.

Hit Da Tech Guy Blog’s Tip Jar or hit Juliette’s!

by baldilocks

Who could have predicted this?

While Panera Cares billed itself as a “non-profit” restaurant designed to feed low-income people, the business model was anything but. Rather than create a charitable organization that distributes food to needy families or a discount outlet or even a $1 menu (like every other fast-food restaurant), Panera tried to create a socialist system in which meals were offered at a suggested donation price. That means some people would pay more while others would pay less based on what they felt like or could afford. By not simply offering food at a low price (hat-tip, Dollar Tree), Panera completely removed any incentive for patrons to meet even the lowest standards of consumer/retailer exchange. The result: some people paid their fair share while others enjoyed a “free lunch.” (…)

Panera Cares went on to open five locations in cities like Dearborn, Portland, Chicago, Boston, and St. Louis. None of the restaurants were self-sustaining, with some locations reportedly being “mobbed” by students along with homeless people looking for a free meal.

“The Portland-based Panera Cares was reportedly only recouping between 60 and 70 percent of its total costs,” reports Eater. “The losses were attributed to students who ‘mobbed’ the restaurant and ate without paying, as well as homeless patrons who visited the restaurant for every meal of the week. The location eventually limited the homeless to ‘a few meals a week.'”

The last Panera Cares – in Boston – will close in ten days.

I remember when Panera launched this PWYW concept and resolved to stay out of there (I didn’t know at the time that LA wasn’t one of the chosen cities.) It was easy to see who would take advantage and what would become of the restaurants. See: Starbucks’ bathroom policy and public libraries.

Credit, however, must be given to the majority owners of Panera, however. There are a lot of proponents of socialism among the owner/CEO class, but few are willing to lay their bottom line on the altar so openly. Shareholder revolt? Probably.

I won’t even ask whether other big corporate owners will learn from this. There’s only so much virtue signaling most are willing to display.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, MeWe, and Gab.

Hit Da Tech Guy Blog’s Tip Jar or hit Juliette’s!