In some Paneras and other restaurants across the nation, a new pricing policy has begun to take shape amidst a weakened economy that has many consumers struggling. Instead of telling customers their total, some locations are having the clerks instead give their customers suggested donation amounts.
Part of a new program that some have called Robin Hood Restaurants, consumers that are having problems paying their bills are now being given the option to pay the suggested donation price, pay less if that is all they can afford, or even if they are better off, they can pay more than the suggested donation price and support others less fortunate.
Ran by the charity wing on Panera Bread, Panera Cares started this Robin Hood Restaurant concept to mark its anniversary. Currently in America there is near 14 million unemployed workers with unemployment being near ten percent and many more that simply dropped out of being counted into the number. Robin Hood Restaurants and other non-profit type businesses offer these 14 million plus workers a relief.
Panera now has 3 such Robin Hood Restaurants around the nation with the possibility of many more opening. Lee Carmona, a district manager for Panera Bread has stated that the company wishes to build a community where anyone can feel alright entering one of their stores. No matter what their background and circumstance financially, customers will be able to enjoy the same quality sandwiches and soups Panera has to offer.
Money is not all that customers can donate with. If they feel they would rather donate an hour of their time to assist in the non profit Robin Hood Restaurant at Panera, they can do so rather than make a higher donation if they wish to help out. There is even the option to work for one hour to pay for your meal if you would like to donate that way, versus a cash donation.
Panera has stated that around 60 percent of customers pay their suggested donation amount, while another 20 percent pays less than the suggested donation amount and the final 20 percent pays more than the suggested donation amount. The donations are in amounts to allow the locations to be just self-sustaining. Any additional revenue is directed towards a help program for youths in need, bringing some of them in for job training and employment.
On a negative side of the seemingly good-will program. Some customers have expressed discomfort. The donations are not exactly discreet as the donation box is in front of the register in front of the cashiers and other customers in line. Some have expressed peer pressure to paying higher than the normally would like to pay for a Panera product.
Regardless, the success of these non-profit Paneras and other Robin Hood Restaurants will be tested as a yearly report comes out and shows just how much of an impact they really had on the community and assisting those in need.