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MAY 24, 2011

"Most people are fundamentally good"

So says Panera Bread chairman Ronald Saich. After a year of operating one of his restaurants on a "pay what you want" model, Saich says he's glad they decided to put their faith in humanity. I am too.

Sign in Panera Cares CafeI wrote about the idea last May after reading about it in the Business section of the Plain Dealer.

The idea made sense: encourage people to pay what they consider their fair share for the food they ate. The hope was that most people would pay the suggested price posted. Sure, some would pay less, but perhaps others would pay more.

The good news is that it's worked pretty much as planned. USA Today says company statistics show that 60% pay approximately the retail cost, 20% pay less, and 20% more. This model of a socially-conscious business does more than serve food, too. They operate a training program for at-risk youth as part of the mission of the non-profit Panera Cares Cafe.

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MAY 2011