Panerafication of Boston continues, but with a twist

The sandwich and baked-goods chain is building a new outlet at 3 Center Plaza, across from City Hall, which is good for certain City Hall denizens who are now forced to walk all the way over to High Street on the Greenway for their coffee, bagels and WiFi.

Unlike the High Street and Back Bay outlets, however, this will be a Panera Cares, where you pay only what you think you can afford:

Panera Cares Cafes do not have prices. Instead, we provide suggested donation amounts to help customers understand what it will take for us to operate these cafes and be self-sufficient. In the end, it is up to the customer to decide what to contribute into our donation bins. Those without any means to contribute have the option of donating an hour of their time to volunteering in our cafes in exchange for a meal. In the end, our non-profit cafes can only survive if our communities support its mission and one another.

The Boston Licensing Board formally considers Panera Care's request for a food-serving license at a hearing next Wednesday in its eighth-floor hearing room in City Hall.



Free tagging: 


This should work real well

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with all the democrats at City Hall. They'll start taking it home for redistribution!


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I'm curious to know IF the licensing board approves this. They already have sh*t fits about businesses being open late because of the kinds of people it "could" attract. Imagine what kind of people this place will attract. I'm sorry, but this is going to just attract homeless people and vagrants. Not only inside the store, outside loitering.

The concept behind their business model I get but I just don't see how they can deal with the liability of this AND sustaining a business that can pay for itself AND not having ever cheap skate in town saying they'll only pay 50 cents for a sandwich.

I've read articles online about this concept and how a few cities are trying to close them down because of the clientele this attracts. People feel that its going to bring down properly values (oh my the horror!!! /sarcasm)

I doubt anyone in the Center

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I doubt anyone in the Center Plaza complex is concerned that this is going to reduce their property values.

So what you're saying

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is that homeless people and vagrants should starve? Or are you saying that they should starve in shittier neighborhoods?

Help me out here.

Shelters have proper

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Shelters have proper facilities and trained staff to manage crowds of this type. Panera Bread not so much.

So what you're saying is

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compassion towards someone in need is something you have to be trained in? How is a restaurant that serves food not a proper facility?

Help me out here.


Thank You

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This is my main concern. Panera is a BUSINESS, not a public service.


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It can't possibly be both? Indeed, it should be prevented from trying?

Actually, seems like this will be a self-correcting problem; they don't promise to stay open if it turns out to be a money-losing proposition. If, as the cynical amongst us believe, Panera can't make a go at this enterprise it will be closed, and you won't be bothered by having to look at those icky less fortunate people.

With a name like Cybah ...

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One would think you would do some research on the Panera Cares model.


Now, suck down your prejudices, do some research on the web, and grow up, mmmkay?

At least..

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At least I have a registered name.. and not an 'anon'.

Um. OK. Fine, when this whole thing explodes in Panera's face and they are forced to close because of 'issues' and/or not being able to make a go of head.

I'll be the first to say "I told you so"

HINT: I'm well aware of Boston isn't the first one. Since I am at work, and don't really give a rats ass to sit and find the articles I read about this NOT working in other cities (and cities that are trying to shut them down because of issues surrounding this). You'll just have to deal, OK?

You're too busy to read, but not too busy to rant

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It's worked elsewhere. Panera is willing to try it in City Hall Plaza. If it works, that's good on them. If it doesn't, they eat the costs and it's no out-of-pocket to the rest of us.

Of course, I'd bet in either case, you will remain a cynical troll.


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I can't figure out which of three weird ideas you're supporting here.

If you're arguing that Panera is a business and is hidebound to make money off of everything they do, then I'll point out that (a) this is a non-profit philanthropic branch of Panera, not Panera itself, and (b) their existing stores that use this model generate 70-80% of the revenue they'd need to be self-sustaining, so they're not even much of a burden on the philanthropic arm of the company.

If you're arguing that they're going to be swarmed with homeless people, then you're being pessimistic about humanity, since in their other restaurants that operate under this model, 80% of its customers paid at least the going rate for a sandwich, if not significantly more.

If you're arguing that private companies shouldn't be in the business of philanthropy, and that dealing with issues of hunger and poverty should be the sole purview of municipal governments, then I'm not really sure what to tell you.

None of the above

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None of the above.

You're missing the point. Its not whether the business can support itself (I really don't think it can regardless. Take a look at other companies who have tried to do this, its always a losing venture).

I think my point is the location. If this was somewhere else, I don't think the vagrant/homeless issue wouldn't be a problem. But considering its in the city center, this is just going to be the draw for homeless people.

Why do I think this? I should explain something.. During the last recession I was a regional manager for Krispy Kreme in MA. (I do IT, but needed work so I took the job). KK's policy at the time was if they are making donuts, every person who walked thru the door gets a free donut. When the Prudential Center store opened, this lasted for one day. Why? because we had every freaking homeless person lined up for a free donut. We had fights, we had to have the mall cops remove several of them. After day one, we stopped. We were the first store in KK history NOT to do this.

I just think this isn't going to end well.

Did I say that...

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Nope I didn't. But ask any business owner who has problems deal with homeless (like the Burger King at Park Street), and I'm sure have the same opinion.

I'm not saying they should starve. But let the professionals deal with them, not some psuedo business trying to be all 'huggy N caring'.

How about a little research next time....

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you know, before you condemn a business for wanting to help what I'm taking you to mean as "the homeless" I suppose next you can recommend a spot in the Innovation District for that leper colony.

Here's an interview with Panera's CEO describing the success of Panera Cares,

And another article,

The Panera Cares "pseudo business" concept is working because the numbers of people who can afford to pay the suggested rates and do far outnumber the ones who can't. And it's those same people whose full price patronage supports the ones who can't pay the full price. This concept has worked so well, no less a celebrity than Jon BonJovi has opened his own version of it in New Jersey and it has been wildly successful.

Ron Shaich and Jon BonJovi are two successful people who realize that helping the less fortunate IS good business. Where the cafe goes should be of no consequence to anyone.

If a restaurant accepts

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If a restaurant accepts donations, do they need fewer types of licenses? Like pedicabs, or donation taxis I heard about in other cities, or those Harvard students that give unofficial tours?

Hey Adam... Update from

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Hey Adam... Update from today, the Panera Cares sign has now been covered with black trashbags and it appears the rental sign is back being posted out front.

Might the attention have caused the landlord to pull back on the agreement?

In some neighborhoods, yes it does...

For Cybah, here's one article that highlights Panera Cares homeless problem:

To wit: people in that Chicago neighborhood with the Panera Cares are having to go around crowds camped in front of the store. The reason why the homeless are camped out is that Panera draws a more affluent crowd. The homeless aren't just going there for the food, but they know the more wealthy folks are a goldmine to cadge change.

I was at the Panera in Coolidge Corner about a month ago. The real problem there is not the food (the food is nothing special) but the amount of space - most of the customers at Panera use it as their personal office space (maybe because the Starbucks down the street is too small?). Sure, Panera's thinking is if they stay there longer, they might purchase more stuff, but if I'm there just to eat, I should get at least a little space to do enjoy my lunch.

To: erik g Re: Pessismism

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"If you're arguing that they're going to be swarmed with homeless people, then you're being pessimistic about humanity,..."

I don't know about anyone else's pessimism, but on this topic, as with so many other topics, I am pessimistic about Bostonians. Many things that work well elsewhere fail miserably in Boston.