Industry / Food

The downfall of Panera Cares reveals a dark reality that is still haunting the fast-food industry

Posted On: Jan 19, 2019   |   Posted By: Business Insider

The downfall of Panera Cares reveals a dark reality that is still haunting the fast-food industry

In 2010, Panera opened Panera Cares, a nonprofit arm of the fast-casual chain where visitors could pay whatever they could afford.
Almost nine years later, only one store remains open, as they faced a number of challenges, many rooted in its basic concept of having people who could afford to pay for their meals eating alongside those who couldn't.
Finding the balance between good intentions and practical reality is a common battle in the restaurant industry.
To hear the full story of Panera Cares, subscribe to Business Insider's podcast "Household Name."
In 2010, Panera's founder and longtime CEO Ron Shaich was convinced he had discovered the perfect way for the chain to give back.
The plan: open Panera Cares, a nonprofit arm of Panera where visitors could pay whatever they wanted, allowing people without money for food to eat a hearty meal similar to what they'd get at other locations of the chain for free. The first location opened in Clayton, Missouri, and it was one of four that ultimately opened across...

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