A feel-good Friday post today straight out of Clayton, Missouri where a Panera-based cafe exists wherein customers don't have to pay for what they order. But most of them do.
It is a nonprofit restaurant meant to raise money for those in need through the donations of its patrons. There are suggested donation amounts, but how much guests leave is entirely up to them. And owners of the unique establishment say the vast majority of people do "the right thing":
Company executives say they are pleased to find that customers have been paying about 85 percent of the retail price of menu items since Richmond Heights, Mo.-based Panera Bread Co. turned this cafe in May into its first nonprofit community cafe. The store is run through the company's charitable foundation.
Ron Shaich, Panera's executive chairman, admits that he was skeptical at first, too, unsure if people would pay when not required to. But four months into the experiment, he says the results have renewed his faith in humanity.
"Are people responsible?" he asked. "My answer is in sum — on total — most people have stepped up."
It's been a roller-coaster ride to be sure, he said. He recalled his rage early on when he saw a group of teenagers put $3 on a credit card for $40 worth of sandwiches.
"You have those moments that beat you down," he said. "There are people who game it ... But most people are fundamentally good."
And isn't that nice to hear?
"You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty." ~Gandhi