Bakery-cafe chain Panera’s remaining pay-what-you-can location (3 Center Plz., Boston) will close on February 15. Panera Cares — which asked for a suggested donation from customers to cover operating costs and meals for those who couldn’t afford them — will shutter after being open for six years.
Panera Bread Company introduced its Panera Cares community cafe concept in 2010 to spread awareness about hunger. The pay-what-you-can model offered a free meal to people who couldn’t otherwise afford to dine out. The other locations (in Chicago, IL; Clayton, MO; Portland, OR; and Dearborn, MI) have also closed their doors. Back in late 2017, only the Clayton and Boston locations remained open, and it was already looking like a losing battle for the Boston cafe. Clayton closed in January 2018.
“Despite our commitment to this mission, it’s become clear that continued operation of the Boston Panera Cares is no longer viable,” Panera Bread said in a statement emailed to Bloomberg. “We’re working with the current bakery-cafe associates affected by the closure to identify alternate employment opportunities within Panera and Au Bon Pain.”
• Panera Will End Its Pay-What-You-Want Test, Closing Boston Store [Bloomberg]
• Panera Cares at Boston’s Center Plaza Is Closing [BRT]
• Why Panera’s Experiment With Pay-What-You-Want Dining Failed [FC]