by Kristen Malzone Pay what you want. It's a risky concept and has proven to be successful for one franchise. Panera Bread Co. recently opened up a store called Cares Cafe in the city of St. Louis. It's an "out-of-the-box experiment" that has created quite a significant amount of buzz both around the community and on social media. The cafe is run by a non-profit and Panera plans to expand across the country in the near future. This philanthropic initiative hopes to bring communities together and serve as a what could be described as a high-class soup kitchen.
This ground-breaking project is unprecedented in the restaurant franchise industry and has people talking. After searching Twitter, you will see the amount of positive buzz that is surrounding this story. People are sharing the story with their friends and commending @PaneraBread on Twitter. Customers who visit the store are greatly appreciative of the efforts Panera has made to improve their community. One third of customers are actually paying more than the retail value of their meal.
Panera's social media team could really embrace this opportunity if they're smart and build relationships with the customers of Cares Cafe. Many have warned Panera CEO, Ron Shaich that this will fail. He thinks otherwise: "The core of my life has been to make a difference. Now, I'm using my business background to make a difference in the world." In our opinion, he is going in the right direction and other franchises should follow his example.
What do you think of Cares Cafe? How would your community react if one were to open in your city?