Panera: 'Pay whatever you want'
Order a bowl of turkey chili at a St. Louis-area Panera Bread cafe and it'll cost you a penny. Or $5. Or $100. In other words, whatever you decide.
Three years after launching the first of five pay-what-you-want cafes, the suburban St. Louis-based chain on Wednesday quietly began its latest charitable venture that takes the concept on a trial run to all 48 cafes in the St. Louis region.Now, it's a nice concept. If you truly are hungry and only have $0.50 to your name, you can come into Panera Bread and get a nice bowl of turkey chili that should carry you a great deal of your day. They're trying this on a trial run, in a limited market, with a single menu item, and seeing what happens. They may take a bath on this one (I have no idea how great of a seller "turkey chili" is), or they might garner sufficient exposure from the offer that the good PR outweighs any loss in sales.
What Nancy took exception to, though, was this comment:
"We hope the suggested donations offset those who say they only have three bucks in their pocket or leave nothing," said Ron Shaich, founder, chairman and co-CEO of the chain and president of its charitable arm, Panera Bread Foundation.Emphasis mine. In Nancy's words,
“Only have three bucks”??? That’s my food budget for the day, not for a cup of turkey chili.Because, you see, she's one of those foolish people that actually makes - and sticks to - a budget, lives within her means, goes without once in a while if things get tight, etc. You know, a responsible adult. It's a pity that there aren't more around. It's a nice gesture from Panera Bread, we don't mean to take away from that. However, the amount they so cavalierly toss out for a lunchtime meal just happens to match her entire day's budget for food - and running my math, it's not much less than my own budget (runs about $4 a day, if my math holds. I blame the Bolivian coffee...) ]
Point being, that same three bucks going to turkey chili could be stretched to cover food for the entire day - if you're willing to buy in bulk, buy store brands, cut coupons, etc. - rather than a bowl of chili at an upscale eatery. For someone genuinely concerned about budget, Panera Bread shouldn't even be on the radar - not that there's anything wrong with Panera Bread, mind you, but that eating in is a heckuva lot cheaper than eating out. Of course, eating in isn't trendy or hip - or, quite simply, it's harder. You need to plan, and budget, and live within your means.
Something, I fear, that far too people strive for these days...
That is all.