PaneraFrom the Associated Press:

"CLAYTON, Mo. - Panera Bread Co. is asking customers at a new restaurant to pay what they want. The national bakery and restaurant chain launched a new nonprofit store here this week that has the same menu as its other 1,400 locations. But the prices are a little different — there aren't any. Customers are told to donate what they want for a meal, whether it's the full suggested price, a penny or $100. The new store in the upscale St. Louis suburb of Clayton is the first of what will Panera hopes will be many around the country. Ronald Shaich, Panera's CEO until last week, was on hand at the new bakery Monday to explain the system to customers."

PNRA is a public company. If this model actually works, what does that predict for the economy as a whole?

Kim Zussman comments:

Some museums are similar, asking patrons to make a donation at the door if they wish (Last time at NY Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Santa Barbara Museum of Art), at a recommended amount (or less/more). Presumably this is to allow poor people to enjoy the exhibits, without requiring those with means to pay.

I wondered whether they studied this, and found this kind of model to be more profitable, bringing in lower mean price but more customers. There could also be data generated on which items are most in demand, etc, useful for other stores.

Rocky Humbert replies:

Museums may not be the right model as the "recommended" admission price doesn't cover the true cost. According to Museum News, in 2004, the median entrance fee to an art museum was $7, however, the median cost to the museum for each visitor was $35.98 Museums are able to do this because of their endowments and benefactors. While you might someday visit the Rocky Humbert Memorial Wing at the MMoA, I promise that you'll never find the Rocky Humbert Bagel Wing at your local Panera's.





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